Sunday 17 December 2017

Ten years for fatal stabbing is not enough, says family

Ciaran Byrne and Lonan Paul

A MAN was jailed for 10 years yesterday after a judge warned that society needed stiff deterrents for the growing menace of knife crime.

But despite the judge's comments, the victim's family said afterwards that the jail term was not enough.

Robert Devine (33), who had more than 70 previous convictions, including possession of a knife, stabbed Joseph Cummins (21) to death two years ago in his house.

The victim's father, Joseph Cummins snr, said: "Ten years is not enough for knife crime.

"There are new families here every week. Every week there will be someone here in my place . . . the sentences are just not enough."

Mr Cummins called on the Government to make the necessary changes to allow stiffer sentences. "The system needs to be looked at, as regards sentencing. It's just not good enough. Every family in this position will feel the same."

He said the "true time" served by Devine was likely to be less than 10 years when remission was taken into account and added that the family was "braced" for such a sentence. "The judge's hands were tied, really. He did his best."

Clutching a photograph of his son wearing a tuxedo, Mr Cummins said: "He didn't deserve to die like that."

Their son's killer would eventually get out of prison, but they would never get their son back, he said. "It's with us for the rest of our lives. We're never going to forget Joseph.

"We have to pick up the pieces. He'll come out of jail and he'll have his life, but my son won't have his life."

The dead man's sister, Dawn, added: "It's us that's serving the life sentence." Devine, from Wheatfields in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, stabbed Mr Cummins in the leg and then fatally in the chest after a night of drinking and drug-taking on November 24, 2007.

The killing happened while Mr Cummins's older brother slept at Devine's house in Lower Grange, Waterford city.

Devine was originally charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter before the trial was due to get under way last December.

Mr Justice Barry White said he was "strongly of the view that deterrent sentences are necessary in the hope that they reduce the occurrence of stabbings".

"Life in certain areas seems to have become very cheap, if not reduced to the level where there is no value placed on life," he said.

Giving evidence at the sentencing hearing, Detective Sergeant Anthony Pettit said Devine had 72 previous convictions, including several for assault and one for possession of a knife.

Kitchen

Devine told gardai he had wanted to clear the house and was trying to get Joseph Cummins to leave, but he refused.

Devine said he went to the kitchen to get a knife to show that he was serious, and that Mr Cummins kicked out at him, and he stabbed him in the leg.

He said they had another confrontation in the kitchen where the deceased received the fatal stab wound to his chest.

In a victim impact statement, the Cummins family said that they had been buying Christmas presents for Joseph on November 24, when they were learnt that he was dead.

The family said that the next day they were buying a coffin and a grave for their son and it was the worst feeling in the world.

"God only knows how far he would have gone in life, we will never know."

Irish Independent

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