The Court of Appeal has found a five year prison term given to a man for killing his best friend was not unduly lenient.
Paul Rice (28), with a last address in Dublin 1, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his former best friend Keith Mills (22) in Ayrfield, Dublin on December 22 2008 following an argument after the pair had been drinking for two days.
Rice (28) was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on July 9 2012.
The Director of Public Prosecutions had appealed his sentence on grounds that it was unduly lenient.
Refusing the DPP's undue leniency application today, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the background to the case lay in an assault on Mr Mills which resulted in him dying from his injuries ten days later.
Both Rice and Mr Mills were among a group of young men that had been drinking heavily over couple of days, Mr Justice Birmingham said.
They found themselves back in a premises in Ayrfield where the deceased and accused were messing by all accounts and dancing. Mr Mills had been playing with a belt, it appears he hit Rice's sister with the belt and the accused had “lost it” in his own words, Mr Justice Birmingham said.
Rice confronted Mr Mills, they fell back onto a television and Rice accepted that he delivered what he described as “a number of boots to the head” and accepted that the assault continued.
Rice seemed to accept on some occasions that there were further kicks to the head after Mr Mills had lost consciousness but on other accounts Rice said these kicks were to the ribs.
Mr Mills sustained severe traumatic brain injuries, Mr Justice Birmingham said. He was brought from the assault scene to nearby Beaumont Hospital where he remained in a come for ten days before being pronounced dead.
Mr Justice Brimingham said that while the court recognised a more severe sentence might well have been imposed on Rice, the Court of Appeal could not say his sentence fell outside the range of sentences available so as to constitute undue leniency.
He said the Court of Appeal's role was a very limited one. It's role was to simply review what happened in sentencing and to identify whether there was an error in principle by the sentencing judge.
No sentence imposed by either the sentencing court or the Court of Appeal could address the loss the family of Mr Mills had suffered. Their loss would endure and continue and their lives will continue to be be blighted by what happened that morning.
There were angry remarks from Mr Mills' family as the Court of Appeal's decision was read out.
Mr Mills' mother claimed Rice had “done three-and-a-half years for the murder of my son”, referring to remission.
More to come...