TWO Clare men who killed a 26-year-old school teacher after an unprovoked attack on St Stephen’s day in 2009 have had their jail sentences increased by two years following a successful appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Harry Dinan (31), of Waterpark Heights, Ennis and his nephew Kevin Dinan (24), of Clarehill, Clarecastle, were originally jailed for five and four years respectively having pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Brian Casey on O’Connell Square, Ennis, on December 26, 2009.
Following an appeal by the DPP in December last year, the Court of Criminal Appeal found that the sentences imposed by Judge Carroll Moran at Limerick Circuit Court on November 8 2010 were unduly lenient.
This afternoon at the Criminal Courts of Justice complex on Dublin’s Parkgate Street, Presiding judge Mr Justice Liam McKechnie said the appeal court had determined the appropriate sentence with regard to Harry Dinan was seven years while Kevin Dinan should be jailed for six years.
Mr Justice McKechnie described the offences as “utterly unprovoked, cowardly brutal and grossly violent” attacks “senseless in their origin and execution” that had caused the death of a “young man with his entire life ahead of him”.
He said it was clear Brian Casey was a “totally innocent” bystander who had “no chance” of defending himself from a “reprehensible series of acts”.
Mr Justice McKechnie said the court again wished to express its condolences to the bereaved relatives and friends of Mr Casey, and to all who had suffered as a result of “this terrible tragedy”.
Limerick Circuit Criminal Court heard that Harry Dinan, who has 64 previous convictions, was on temporary release from prison at the time of the unlawful killing, while Kevin Dinan, who has 17 previous convictions, was on bail and awaiting sentence having pleaded guilty to a burglary charge.
Mr Casey was looking on at a scuffle with his hands in his pockets when he was caught off guard by a single severe “haymaker" punch inflicted by Harry Dinan at about midnight on St Stephen’s night on O’Connell Square.
The blow from Harry Dinan broke Mr Casey’s jaw in two places and the Lissycasey man hit the ground with the back of his head.
He fractured his skull on impact with the ground and the court heard that Kevin Dinan then proceeded to punch Mr Casey repeatedly to the face and head while he lay prostrate on the ground. He never regained consciousness and died two days later.
Counsel for the State, Ms Deirdre Murphy SC, had argued that Judge Moran had erred in principle by placed excessive weight on the contention that the attack perpetrated by Harry Dinan was essentially a “one punch case”.
She said that, having regard to concept of a one punch case, Judge Moran correctly identified an appropriate sentence of ten years for each man, but then proceeded to err and effect a “double counting” exercise by further reducing the sentences imposed on account of this factor.
Ms Murphy said that Judge Moran also erred in law by failing to give his reasons for the differentiation in sentence imposed on each of the accused.
Mr Justice McKechnie said the court had determined that the State’s assertion was correct and that Judge Moran must have considered the concept of a “one punch case” to be a “vital ingredient” when deciding that the appropriate starting point for sentence was 10 years.
He said that, having already considered this factor, it was therefore not permissible to further reduce the sentence from this point and to do so was an exercise of “double counting”.
Mr Justice McKechnie said the court had regard to the aggravating factors in the case, including the violence and gratuitous nature of the frontal assault carried out by Harry Dinan, who the court heard had some experience in professional boxing.
He said it was also clear that Harry Dinan was a man involved in criminality over a long period of time in many ways.
Mr Justice McKechnie said the evidence showed that Kevin Dinan had inflicted multiple blows on a defenceless person who was close to unconsciousness if not unconscious at the time.
With regard to mitigating factors, Mr Justice McKechnie said the court noted that both men had pleaded guilty, which had removed the doubt necessary for a successful prosecution and had saved witnesses from giving evidence in court.
He said the court believed the distinction made between the two brothers at the original sentence hearing was justified on the grounds of age, differing criminal records and in particular the difference in criminal culpability.
Mr Justice McKechnie said the court also had further considered a Victim Impact statement submitted by Mr Casey’s sister as well as further testimony handed in on behalf of the accused.
He said that Harry Dinan’s sentence would be backdated to September 30th, 2010 and ordered that Kevin Dinan’s sentence run consecutive to another sentence he was serving, which expired in November 2011.