THE heartbroken parents of a man who was killed by his best friend during a drunken brawl lashed out at the five-year jail sentence he received for manslaughter yesterday.
Paul Rice (26), of Clanhugh Road, Donnycarney, north Dublin, pleaded guilty at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter of his former best friend Keith Mills (22), in Ayrfield, Dublin, on December 22, 2008 following an argument after the pair had been drinking for two days.
After a sentencing hearing at the Criminal Courts of Justice yesterday, Mr Mills's parents, Terry and Freddie Mills, said they thought the seven-year sentence -- with two years' suspended -- was too lenient.
"The law is a joke," Mrs Mills said.
"It has been a nightmare, like living the funeral all over.
"I just don't believe she just gave him five years. It's just not fair."
Mr Mills was punched and kicked in the head during the 2am assault in a flat on Rathvale Drive, Ayrfield, and was in a coma for 10 days before being pronounced dead due to brain injuries on New Year's Day 2009.
A medical report found he suffered a fractured skull and "severe brain injuries".
Mr Rice admitted to manslaughter, stating he "snapped" and attacked his friend after he struck Mr Rice's sister with a belt.
Mr Mills's family sobbed as a victim impact report was read out in court on behalf of the family yesterday.
Freddie Mills said he had "lost his son and best mate".
Inspector Colm Murphy agreed with Aileen Donnelly, defending, that a threat had been made against Mr Rice's life after the death of his friend and his mother had received bullets in the post.
Mr Rice has 17 previous convictions in Ireland and five foreign convictions.
Judge Margaret Heneghan described the offence as a "very serious and callous attack".
But she took into account Mr Rice's early plea, his genuine remorse and the fact that the killing was not pre-meditated.