Monday 19 August 2019

Dave Mahon loses appeal over severity of seven-year sentence for killing partner's son

Dave Mahon Pic Collins Courts
Dave Mahon Pic Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A Dublin man has lost his Supreme Court appeal over the severity of a seven-year sentence for killing his partner's son.

David Mahon (46) had denied the murder of Dean Fitzpatrick (23), the older brother of missing teenager Amy, on May 26th 2013.

Dean Fitzpatrick received a stab wound to the abdomen outside the apartment his mother, Audrey Fitzpatrick, shared with Mahon at Burnell Square, Northern Cross, on the Malahide Road in Dublin.

The two-week trial heard that Mahon had been in a relationship with Audrey Fitzpatrick for 12 years by the time her son died.

David Mahon arrives in court with his wife, Audrey. Photo: Collins
David Mahon arrives in court with his wife, Audrey. Photo: Collins

The State had argued Mahon was drunk, angry and agitated when he thrust a knife into his stepson with deadly intent.

Mahon claimed his death was an accident or possible suicide and that Mr Fitzpatrick had ‘walked into the knife’ while they had been arguing.

A Central Criminal Court jury found Mahon not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter and he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan in June 2016.

After the Court of Appeal upheld the sentence, Mahon secured a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

Giving the judgment of the five judge court on Thursday, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said the appeal concerns manslaughter and there was nothing in the approach of the trial judge that required revision of the sentence.

“Absent an attack with deadly force and an action in self defence in extreme circumstances, there can never be an excuse for the production of a knife,” he said.

In this case, the trial judge had taken a “lenient” view of the circumstances.

This case might be regarded as an “exception” from what ought to occur which is that the sentencing judge should pronounce “a clear narrative” of the facts accepted.

On the trial judge’s analysis, it appeared a lenient view was taken amounting to the production of a knife as part of “a psychic assault and either an unfortunate spontaneous action or collision”, he said.

That view of culpability placed the appropriate band in the medium culpability end of the spectrum.

The court would not comment as to whether a more serious view should have been taken by the trial judge as that responsibility was for the sentencing judge and on that basis, would not alter the sentence.

It would not be appropriate for the Supreme Court to interfere with the sentence as the emphasis in its judgment was o the function of the trial judge interpreting the jury’s verdict.

He also outlined certain suggestions relating to sentencing in a comprehensive judgment.

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