A motorist who killed another in a “road rage homicide” has had his prison sentence reduced by the Court of Appeal.
Karl Donohoe (33), of Fisherman's Wharf, Ringsend, Dublin 4, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Ray Bates at the junction of Tritonville Road and Sandymount Road on September 26 2010.
He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court on April 23 2012.
The Court of Appeal found today that the sentence handed down to Donohoe represented “a category of gravity” unwarranted by the facts and accordingly reduced his jail term by two years.
In a written judgment delivered by the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Seán Ryan said the manslaughter arose in circumstances where Donohoe and the deceased were driving their cars through Sandymount in Dublin going the same direction.
Donohoe had his two-year-old daughter in the back of his vehicle and was accompanied by a friend in the passenger seat.
Initial contact occurred when Donohoe stopped at traffic lights and the deceased man flashed his lights at Donohoe.
The garda evidence was that Mr Bates was tailgating Donohoe who was slowing down to indicate by his brake lights that Mr Bates was too close.
Donohoe stopped on Tritonville Road and both men got out of their vehicles and proceeded to shout at each other.
Mr Bates had spent five-and-a-half hours prior to the incident drinking in a pub in Sandymount, the judgment stated.
Following the altercation both men returned to their cars. Donohoe went to drive away but Mr Bates drove around his car and mounted a traffic island forcing Donohoe to move slightly to the left of the road.
Donohoe got out of his vehicle, took a hurley from the boot of his car and started hitting the front passenger door of Mr Bates' car. The deceased man got out of his car and approached Donohoe with his hands in the air in front of him in a non-confrontational manner.
Donohoe hit him with the hurley a number of times as Mr Bates tried to ward off the blows but Donohoe continued to strike him on the arms and also on the head.
Mr Bates fell and was struck a number of times on the head while on the ground, the judgment stated.
When the attack ended, Mr Bates got up, got into his car and drove home. He subsequently died in hospital on September 30 2010 haveing suffered from haemophilia which contributed to his death although not amounting to a defence.
Mr Bates (49), a father of three sons from England, was living in Ireland on foor of a temporary work contract at the time.
Counsel for Donohoe, Brendan Grehan SC, submitted that the sentencing judge erred in principle by failing to take into account significant mitigating factors and that the judge had wrongly taken into account extraneous matters.
These included 'signed address supplied hate mail' the judge said he had received following sentencing for a similar 'road rage homicide' he had dealt with 'in a very short space of time' previously.
The Court of Appeal, comprised of Mr Justice Ryan, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, stated in its judgment that the trial judge erred in locating the crime at “somewhat too high a point”.
The Court was of the view that the correct starting point was a sentence of ten years imprisonment rather than twelve.
Accordingly, the court imposed a ten year sentence on Donohoe and suspended the final two years.
Donohoe was required to enter into a bond of €1,000 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the suspended period of his sentence.