Monday 15 July 2019

Gangland criminal Brian Rattigan jailed for nine years for fatal takeaway stabbing

Brian Rattigan
Brian Rattigan

Andrew Phelan and Conor Feehan

Gangland criminal Brian Rattigan has been jailed for nine years for stabbing a man to death outside a takeaway.

Rattigan (38) had the sentence handed down at the Central Criminal Court today for the 2001 killing of Declan Gavin.

Mr Justice Michael White made the sentence concurrent to a jail term he is already serving, and backdated it to October 1 last year.

Rattigan, wearing a blue-grey blazer, with navy slacks, a white shirt and dark tie remained seated throughout the hearing and nodded when the sentence was passed, but showed no other reaction. He then gathered up a white jacket and was led away.

Members of Mr Gavin’s family left the court in silence, then embraced investigating gardai outside but did not comment to reporters.

Rattigan, of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Gavin (20), who he stabbed in the heart with a knife outside an Abrakebabra in Crumlin on August 25 that year.

Victim Declan Gavin was killed in 2001. Photo: RTÉ
Victim Declan Gavin was killed in 2001. Photo: RTÉ

He had been tried for murder twice in 2009; the first jury could not reach a verdict but a second jury convicted him. However, that conviction was successfully appealed in 2017.

He was due for another retrial last year but on October 22 last he entered a guilty plea to the lesser charge, which was accepted by the State.

Rattigan has been in custody since 2003, and in 2013 was given a 17 year sentence for sale or supply of drugs from within prison, with a release date with remission in November this year.

Mr Gavin’s killing sparked the infamous Crumlin-Drimnagh feud, which claimed 16 lives over 10 years.

Tara Gavin, the victim's sister, leaving court
Tara Gavin, the victim's sister, leaving court

Supt Brian Sutton had told the court Mr Gavin had been out socialising with friends at around 3am when a Nissan Micra pulled up.

Witnesses heard shouting of “rat, where is he?” and a man wearing a balaclava- Rattigan -got out carrying a large knife and ran towards Mr Gavin, stabbing him in the hand and chest.

Fatally injured, he retreated into Abrakebabra and collapsed, while Rattigan tried to follow him but the security man held the door closed.

Mr Gavin died from shock and blood loss due to a single stab wound to the heart.

In a victim impact statement the victim's sister Tara Gavin had said her world was “turned upside down” by the her brother's death and after nearly 18 years the “loss and sadness doesn’t disappear.”

Their mother Pauline Gavin had not read Rattigan’s apology letter to her and felt it came “too late,” the court heard.

Rattigan's apology letter was also read out on the last court date.

“I would like to apologise to you and your family for the events that led to the death of your son,” the letter read.

“Nothing I can say can change how you feel. I am very sorry for taking your son’s life. I’ve regretted that night in silence ever since. As I get older it doesn’t get any easier.

"I’m terribly sorry. I hope you can find peace now. I hope that after over 17 years it will be over and you will have closure. May Declan rest in peace and may God protect him.”

Mr Justice White said today it had been over 17 years since Mr Gavin’s death and his mother still lived in the locality.

The victim’s family had waited a very long time for closure and acknowledgement from Rattigan that he was responsible for Mr Gavin’s death. The long, drawn out nature of the case had placed an “extra burden of suffering” on them, he said.

The family felt the accused's letter of apology had been too little too late but said he hoped they will now have some respite and comfort in their fond memories of Mr Gavin, the judge said.

The aggravating factors the court had to consider included the nature of the offence, and the bringing by the accused of an offensive weapon - a knife -  to a crowded scene in the early hours of the morning while he was high on drugs and alcohol.

The judge also cited the “tragic loss of life of a man in the prime of his life” and the effect on his family, as well as Rattigan’s previous convictions.

In mitigation, he had pleaded guilty and how he was getting on in prison “hopefully indicates a substantial departure from his previous criminal behaviour.”

Of the letter of apology, he said, while “the court accepts that it seems to be genuine on his part, it’s much too late to be considered a mitigating factor.”

He said making a sentence consecutive did not arise in the case and Rattigan was entitled to have the sentence imposed from the date that he “unambiguously”  offered a plea. It was not appropriate to back date it any further, he said.

The appropriate “headline” sentence, he said was 13 years, but taking into account all the mitigating factors this was reduced to nine years.

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