Friday 23 February 2018

Killers deserved life term, court told

Tim Healy

TWO convicted murderers challenging their mandatory life sentences could not argue their crimes were at the lower end of the murder spectrum, the State argued.

The Supreme Court heard that killers Peter Whelan and Paul Lynch were contending there were different types of murders -- and therefore a mandatory sentence breached the constitutional principle of proportionality.

But Brian Murray, for the State, said that a "serious and mandatory" life sentence was given due to the the impact and intention of a murder.

It was the State's case there was no legal authority to support the two men's claim for proportionality in relation to persons convicted of murder.

The murders committed by both fully merited a punitive life sentence and, in Whelan's case, it was difficult to imagine "a more heinous crime of murder", he told the court.

The claims were made on the closing day of the appeal to the Supreme Court, which yesterday reserved judgment.

Whelan pleaded guilty in 2002 to the murder of student Nicola Sweeney (20) at her home in Rochestown, Cork. He was also jailed for 15 years for the attempted murder of her friend Sinead O'Leary. The Court of Criminal Appeal later decided the 15-year sentence should run consecutively to the life term.

Lynch pleaded guilty in 1997 to murdering Donegal pensioner William Campbell (77) in September 1995. Mr Campbell died after he was repeatedly struck on the head with a saucepan in a robbery.

The men had asked the Supreme Court to overturn a High Court finding, which said that the mandatory life term does not breach their rights.

Irish Independent

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