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Family's fury over six-year jail term for woman who killed dad

A grieving family last night hit out at the six-year jail sentence imposed on a woman who crushed their father to death with her car.

The family of Michael Duffy was speaking after the sentencing yesterday of self-confessed killer Claire Nolan (25).

The father of four suffered a severed spine after Nolan drove at him whilst high on drink and drugs and pinned him against a wall.

Mr Duffy's family had to endure two murder trials -- where juries failed to reach a verdict -- before the prosecution accepted a plea of manslaughter.

Speaking after the sentencing yesterday, the victim's son, Michael Duffy Jnr, told the Irish Independent that Nolan had a number of opportunities to walk away from the incident at Wellview Grove, Blanchardstown, west Dublin, in January 2008, but she chose not to.

"That lady had five or six opportunities to pull back and she didn't," he said.

"She had 15 previous convictions, the young lady is out of control and as night follows day, when she goes back into society she will be in trouble again. She's that type, she's a nasty woman, she needs to be locked away. Unfortunately, it's not the appropriate sentence here today."

At Dublin Central Criminal Court yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced Nolan, of Sheephill Green, Blanchardstown, to eight years in prison. However, taking into account her guilty plea, he suspended the final two years.

He said he took account of the gravity of the offence, its effect on the victims and the fact that Nolan had been "out of control" on drink and drugs. He also pointed out that she had fled the scene of the crime and had attempted to destroy evidence by torching the car.

Disability

The court had previously heard that Nolan, who was 21 at the time, had been attending a gathering with friends in the house next door to Francis Duffy's -- the victim's son -- on the night of January 26, 2008.

Sergeant Michael Kennedy told the court that Nolan had just bought a Nissan Micra and Francis Duffy "may have been seen getting in and out of it", which caused her "to get very cross".

Francis had a mild intellectual disability but lived an independent life. The court heard how Nolan took a baseball bat and "hit him over the head with it".

Francis then phoned his father and after he arrived, Nolan got into her Nissan Micra and crashed into Mr Duffy's taxi. She then drove it into the front garden of Francis's house, crushing Michael Duffy against the wall.

He was pronounced dead in hospital and the pathologist's report said he had suffered a large trauma injury due to crushing.

In a statement outside the court, the Duffy family said: "We feel justice has not been served today for Michael. Having heard horrific details on how his life was unnecessarily and senselessly taken that night, we are disappointed that the sentence is for manslaughter.

"Unfortunately, no matter what the outcome was, we'll never obtain the only thing that our hearts desire -- that this nightmare had never begun and that Michael was still with us."

Michael Duffy Jnr said his father was a very fit man who walked three or four miles every day. He would have turned 70 this year.

Irish Independent