Monday 19 February 2018

12-year sentence for drug-debt gun killer 'too lenient'

Tammy Jo McCormack with family members speaking to the media outside court yesterday after Aidan Finnegan had
been sentenced for killing Dara McCormack
Tammy Jo McCormack with family members speaking to the media outside court yesterday after Aidan Finnegan had been sentenced for killing Dara McCormack

Jessica Magee

THE family of a man killed by his life-long friend over a small drugs debt yesterday hit out at the 12-year jail sentence handed down to his killer.

Dara McCormack was shot in the back with a shotgun and died shortly afterwards in the arms of his father, Thomas.

Yesterday, Aidan Finnegan (31) was given the 12-year sentence after he pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

Speaking outside the Central Criminal Court, the victim's eldest sister Tammy Jo McCormack said she would never forgive Finnegan for taking her brother's life and causing her parents and family so much pain and anguish.

"To completely articulate the impact that Dara's death has had on our lives is truly overwhelming and impossible," said Ms McCormack.

She said the sentence was too lenient for Finnegan's "callous and pre-meditated attack."

He had "handed Dara a death sentence, and his family a life sentence", and had never shown any remorse.

Finnegan, of Whitestown Avenue, Hartstown, Blanchardstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the 24-year-old on February 11, 2006.

Mr McCormack was shot in the back at Whitestown. Thomas McCormack told the court that in his dying moments his son named one of his best friends as his attacker.

He had knelt by his son when he found him injured and bleeding on the ground near their Blanchardstown home, and asked him, "Who shot you?"

Mr McCormack said Dara was struggling for breath as he replied, "Aidan, Aidan, Da."

Detective Sergeant Michael Kennedy said a number of residents of Whitestown Park described how they ran outside their homes after hearing a loud bang.

He said one witness described seeing two men dressed in black standing beside Dara, who begged, "please don't shoot" while kicking out with his legs in an effort to defend himself.

A post-mortem examination by Professor Marie Cassidy found that Dara McCormack died from a shotgun blast to the back, which damaged most of the major internal organs, including the heart and liver.

In April, Finnegan pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter. This plea was accepted by the DPP.

Det Sgt Kennedy agreed that Finnegan had offered a manslaughter plea three years ago, but it was not accepted at the time.

Squalid

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Paul Carney said Finnegan had been "a bosom and lifelong friend" of the victim, but this had not prevented him from taking part in a "vicious attack over a squalid drug debt", which proved fatal.

He did not accept Finnegan's "self-serving version of events", and that it was clear he had been an "active participant" in the manslaughter of Mr McCormack.

The judge added that Finnegan did not have "a good character", and that although his guilty plea would normally have entitled him to a significant discount, this sentence would not be reduced because circumstances had forced the previous collapse of the trial last year.

He sentenced Finnegan to 12 years in prison, backdated to January 30, 2009.

Irish Independent

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