Monday 16 December 2019

Man who killed with a single punch has sentence reduced to 10 years

Jason Morrissey (24), Toomvara, Co. Tipperary
Jason Morrissey (24), Toomvara, Co. Tipperary

A 24-year-old man has had a fourteen year prison sentence for unlawfully killing another man he hit with one punch reduced to ten years by the Court of Appeal.

Jason Morrissey of Toomevara, Co Tippearary, had pleaded guilty to the unlawful killing of 25-year-old James Tynan at Liberty Square in Thurles on February 19 2012.

Morrissey's case came before the Court of Appeal today where it was heard that he had been on a significant series of criminal activity for five days with four victims.

The 24-year-old had been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for the unlawful killing of James Tynan, separate 3 year and two 2 year consecutive sentences for assault causing harm on three other men and a further 2 year sentence for theft to run concurrently.

Altogether Morrissey had been sentenced to 21 years imprisonment with the final three suspended by Judge Thomas Teehan in Clonmel Circuit Court in April 2013. The appeal was brought only against the 14-year sentence for unlawful killing.

James Tynan had gone to Thurles with friends and was standing on a footpath outside a nightclub facing toward a laneway, the court heard.

Morrissey and another man were seen walking past Mr Tynan up the laneway, turning and coming back down the laneway. As he approached Mr Tynan, Morrissey “increased his speed” to a brisk walk before striking him with a clenched fist.

Barrister Frank Quirke, for the DPP, told the court today that Morrissey then raised his fists "in some triumphant” semi circular dance around the deceased.

Mr Tynan was lying motionless on the ground and it was accepted at that stage that Morrissey did not know how badly injured Mr Tynan was. He died the following day, Mr Justice Peart said.

About an hour after the assault, Morrissey was arrested on a separate public order offence. He was released and arrested later for the assault on Mr Tynan. Morrissey told gardaí he “felt like it was in a ring”, he had knocked Mr Tynan out and he “had won”, Mr Justice Peart said.

Morrissey had 85 previous convictions, 10 of which were for assault, and the majority were for public order offences. He was already on bail on the last public order offence when he committed these offences, Mr Justice Peart said.

A victim impact statement read out in court by Mr Tynan's family was described by trial Judge Thomas Teehan, as “just about the most affecting victim impact statement I have ever heard”.

Mr Tynan's mother had said one punch can take a life – leaving all of our lives in darkness, Mr Justice Peart said.

The Court of Appeal accepted that when Mr Morrissey saw the CCTV footage of the incident he gave a full account to gardaí. He had no intention to kill and accepted the manslaughter charge.

Morrissey came from a decent famliy by and large, Mr Justice Peart said.

The Court of Appeal was satisfied that despite the undoubted fact that the attack was in no way provoked, it consisted of a single punch. In many instances a single punch will not result in death, Mr Justice Peart said.

Moreover it was not a single punch which caused Mr Tynan's death, he said, rather it was the fall to the ground. It was not a premeditate assault and no weapon was used.

Mr Justice Peart who read the judgment alongside Mr Justice Peter Kelly and Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the appropriate and proportionate sentence in this case was ten years.

Altogether, Morrissey's sentence was reduced to 17 years imprisonment with the final three suspended. His other four convictions and the sentences' date of commencement were not affected.

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