Three burglars, who were pursued by a homeowner until gardaí stopped their vehicle, have had their jail terms reduced by more than half on appeal.
James Cash (28), of Boot Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, Thomas Wall (23) of Neilstwon Cottages, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 and William Wall (32), of Blacktrench, Newbridge, Co Kildare were found guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on four counts of burglary committed in the Cork City area on December 1 and 2 2012.
They had been acquitted of three further counts of burglary and of possessing implements with the intent to use them during a burglary, having denied all charges.
Cash was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with one suspended while the Walls were both sentenced to seven years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on February 4 2014.
A homeowner, whose Glasheen home had been burgled hours earlier, had pursued a “KE” registered vehicle and had given directions to gardaí over the phone until the vehilce was stopped by them on the South Link Road in Cork on the occasion in question.
Thomas Wall was driving the car while William Wall and Cash were passengers. Jewellery and an amount of cash found in the car were linked to various burglaries, the Court of Appeal had stated.
Cash and William Wall lost appeals against conviction last month but all three men today successfully appealed their sentences. A new sentence of four years imprisonment with the final 21 months suspended was imposed on Cash while the Walls were both given four years with two suspended.
Speaking on behalf of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham said William Wall, a married man with two children, had no previous convictions for anything of this nature and it was his first time in custody.
Again, Thomas Wall had no “significant previous convictions,” the judge said.
Cash was “to a significant extent different”. He came before the courts with 37 previous convictions some of which were for burglary. He hadn't actually served a sentence but a number of sentences had been suspened.
While these were undoubtedly serious offences, Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing court had erred in taking seven years imprisonment as a starting point.
All three were appearing in the Circuit Court for the first time and two of three had no relevant previous convictions, he said.
It was obvious, he said, that there was going to be a significant custodial sentence but “the court could have considered whether a lesser sentence was capable of impressing on these offenders the seorusness of what they had done”.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the appropriate starting point would have been four years imprisonment.
Given that the Walls were effectively first offenders, the court left their two year suspensions unaltered.
In the case of Cash, Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge was correct to differentiate his situation having regard to his significant previous record.
Cash had submitted to the court a letter, almost “an appeal”, the judge said, from a shopkeeper and farmer who offered Cash a job on his release.
It was among the most powerful and impressive references that the members of the court had encountered, Mr Justice Birmingham said, and by reference to that a lesser differentiation could occur.
Consequently, 21 months of Cash's four year sentence was suspended.