Parents unhappy at eight-year sentence for son's killing
THE family of a father of three who was buried alive in a shallow grave have said they are "deeply unhappy" after the man convicted of his manslaughter received an eight-year sentence.
Clement Byrne (49), Clonattin Village, Gorey, Co Wexford, was charged with the murder of Steven O'Meara (26) at Ballydonnell Wood, Redcross, on August 6, 2009.
Mr Byrne had pleaded not guilty to the murder at the Central Criminal Court last March but guilty to manslaughter and this plea was accepted by the State.
Mr O'Meara, from Rosehill in Wicklow town, was the subject of several garda appeals after going missing in August 2009. His body was unearthed in an isolated wooded area in the Wicklow Mountains nearly five months later, on Christmas Eve.
Byrne was sentenced to eight years in prison, with 18 months post-release supervision.
Mr Justice Paul Carney said he found the case an "extremely difficult one to evaluate", adding that he had taken into account a number of factors when determining sentence.
These included the accused's guilty plea, the range of manslaughter sentences that can be imposed, and the impact the murder had on the victim's family, in particular Mr O'Meara's children.
He said Mr O'Meara had been "set up" to receive a "hiding" as punishment for a drugs debt, and that "major punishments meted out in these circumstances are well known".
Speaking outside the court, Mr O'Meara's father, John, said he believed the sentence did not reflect the enormity of the crime and the "devastation" his son's death had on his family.
"It's too soon to comment properly but the only thing I'd have to say is we're not happy with the eight years," he told the Irish Independent.
"We are happy with the way the Garda Siochana did their job but there is a good chunk of business to go yet."
He said his son was in rehab for alcohol addiction on several occasions and unluckily met the wrong people there.
His mother Veronica added: "We're not happy because there's no sentence for taking somebody's life. It's very difficult for the kids."