Monday 19 February 2018

Man who should have been in prison when murdering his ex-girlfriend’s partner given life sentence

James Connors (29) found guilty of the murder of 27-year-old James Ryan. Pic: Courtpix
James Connors (29) found guilty of the murder of 27-year-old James Ryan. Pic: Courtpix

Eoin Reynolds

A MAN who murdered his ex-girlfriend's partner when he should have been in jail serving a sentence for assault has been sentenced to life imprisonment today.

James Connors (29), of Rosemount, Drinagh, Co Wexford had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Jason Ryan (27), at Hollyville Heights in Wexford on January 25, 2012.

After 11 hours and 21 minutes of deliberations, the jury of seven men and five women at the Central Criminal Court found him guilty of murder by a ten to two majority.

The victim's mother Catherine Ryan wrote a victim impact statement that was read to the court by counsel for the prosecution Lisa Dempsey BL.

She said: "How do you describe what it's like to have your healthy, glowing son die because of the whim of another person?"

She said she is lonely even when surrounded by her family and that she misses the sound of her son and his laughter. She said she is trapped in her own groundhog day and that her family can never be as they were before Jason was killed.

James Connors denies murdering Jason Ryan in 2012
James Connors denies murdering Jason Ryan in 2012

"I miss the devilment and miss the way he called me 'mother'," she said. "There is a hole in my life and only Jason coming back will ever fill it. But that's never going to be. Death is a very final state."

She said she is angry that Jason's life was cut short by the "decision of another man" and her family's life turned upside down and inside out.

"I cannot begin to describe the anger that I feel over that decision and towards the man who made it. Anger is the overriding emotion in my life. I am angry because my son is gone forever."

Ms Ryan offered some words to James Connors's own mother, saying: "I empathize with Mrs Connors and I imagine it must be difficult for her too. But she will have her son and his future in her life. She will see him and hold him. She will hear him call her name. All I have from now to the end of my life are my memories and a plot of ground with a cold headstone."

Before sentencing, Detective Garda Colm Dunne of Wexford Garda Station gave evidence that Mr Connors had numerous previous convictions.

The most serious was a conviction in March 2009 at Wexford Circuit Court where he was sentenced to five years in prison for assault causing harm.

He was given Christmas leave for that offence in December 2011 but failed to return when his leave ended. When he murdered Jason Ryan in January 2012 Mr Connors was unlawfully absent from prison.

Sentencing Mr Connors, Justice Margaret Heneghan said that she was imposing the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

She backdated the sentence by two years and three months to take into account time already served in prison before Mr Connors was granted bail.

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