Wednesday 13 December 2017

Family of slain Independent reporter describe apology letter as 'an insult'

* Journalist's killer handed five-year sentence with two suspended after deadly street assault

Eugene Moloney
Eugene Moloney
Sean Moloney outside court
Gary Burch
Eugene Moloney pictured with his girlfriend
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

THE FAMILY of journalist Eugene Moloney branded an apology letter from his killer as a "joke" and an "insult".

The former Irish Independent reporter's brother Sean called for a "rethink" of sentences for late night on-street violence to act as a serious deterrent.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring warned that street assaults were all too common and the exodus of people on to the pathways at closing time was a "recipe for disaster".

Gary Burch (22), of Kennington Close, Templeogue, Co Dublin, received a five-and-a-half-year sentence, with two suspended, after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Donegal-born Mr Moloney (55).

The sentence was backdated to December 15 last, to take account of time Burch already spent behind bars.

CCTV footage showed trainee mechanic Burch throwing his arms in the air in a "celebratory fashion" after delivering a punch to Mr Moloney's neck as he walked along Camden Street in Dublin city centre around 4am on June 24 last year.

He was taken to hospital unconscious and pronounced dead an hour later.

Burch became upset in garda interviews, and spoke of being disgusted with himself for a "moment of craziness".

The judge said both men were "total strangers" and Mr Moloney had been accosted verbally, before Burch intervened with a punch "where no such violence was offered".

Judge Ring said Mr Moloney had "plenty of tomorrows" which ended without warning in the early hours of that morning.

"Nothing can deal with the unfairness of that reality," she added.

Speaking outside court, Sean Moloney branded it an "unprovoked assault by an absolute guttersnipe on a poor harmless innocent middle-aged man which resulted in his death".

Mr Moloney said the apology letter received from Burch was an "absolute joke".

"Moloney was spelt wrong," he said. "He didn't put his home address, the signature on the bottom was different from the handwriting, it was a joke."

JUSTICE

He said sentencing could be "tougher" on people who lift their hand, causing an altercation, that results in injury or death.

"The nature of the blow is a blow you are taught in martial arts never to do. We brought this to the attention of the gardai months ago but unfortunately they couldn't prove whether it was intentional or not – but it was a killer blow," he said.

"He was a larger-than-life man, a giant of a man, who is

just not there. How do you deal with that?" he said. "You just look at the photographs of him in all the parts of the world and just realise he is gone."

Eugene planned to marry his Vietnamese fiancee Chichi who remains "sad" that their future is now "gone".

Sean Moloney added: "We came here today to get justice for Eugene and the judge did her very best. She was clearly moved. When you looked at the other family you realise just what a sorry day it is for both families.

"No amount of justice will bring our brother back, (but) the other man's life is ruined."

Judge Ring said the effect of hitting someone on the neck could not be anticipated.

That night Burch had drank 10 bottles of Budweiser and a couple of shots.

A post-mortem found Mr Moloney died from the blow to the neck, which tore an artery causing haemhorraging.

Mr Moloney was found to have a modest level of alcohol in his blood after celebrating a friend's impending marriage.

Burch, who had no previous convictions, was described as very intoxicated and mouthing off.

Irish Independent

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