Six years for teen who killed uncle after violent row
Published 23/10/2010 | 05:00
A YOUNG man who stabbed his uncle to death in a drug- and drink-fuelled row over cash was jailed for six years yesterday.
Christopher Ruby (18) had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his uncle, Shannon Ruby (30) in Blarney, Co Cork, in September last year. His family had pleaded with the judge not to impose a custodial sentence.
Frank and Ursula Ruby, the parents of the dead man and grandparents of the defendant, made an emotional plea for leniency to Mr Justice Paul Carney in the Central Criminal Court in Cork.
However, Mr Justice Carney said a custodial sentence was warranted.
The teenager was initially charged with the murder of his uncle but the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) accepted a plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter given that there was provocation in the case.
"This court is having to deal with a depressingly large number of knife killings, largely perpetrated by very young men. In the experience of the court, there are three levels," he said.
"The [first is when the] accused carries the knife with him for his own protection and uses it with fatal consequences.
"The second is when a row breaks out and the accused reaches for a knife close at hand. And the third is when following what used to be called a fair fight, the accused returns home and gets a knife. He returns to the scene of the row and uses the weapon."
Mr Justice Carney said this crime fell firmly into the third and most serious category, because the teenager had taken a flick knife with a jagged edge with him when he returned to confront Shannon Ruby following an earlier fight.
A row had erupted that day between the uncle and nephew over money. Christopher later told gardai he felt "belittled" by the incident.
The judge said he was taking the age and guilty plea of the defendant into account as mitigating factors.
"The family of Shannon Ruby indicated they would prefer to see him maintain his drug-free status and receive counselling rather than go to prison. (But) due to the gravity of this offence I can't do this."
Mr Justice Carney also revealed yesterday that a sister of Shannon Ruby had written an inappropriate letter to the court "designed to influence sentencing", but he had already put his sentencing review to paper.
Shannon Ruby had been living for a number of years in Youghal with his partner, Nora Harty, and was the father of a young daughter, Ann.
Christopher Ruby has 17 previous convictions for public order and related matters.