Sunday 20 October 2019

'We are extremely disappointed' - Family of Seamus Bell criticise killer's sentence

Seamus Bell in a picture taken just hours before the attack
Seamus Bell in a picture taken just hours before the attack
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The family of a young father who died after a one-punch attack has hit out at the leniency of his killer's sentence.

Father-of-three Seamus Bell (35) from Co Monaghan had been out celebrating the christening of his twin daughters when he suffered a one-punch assault from Vytautas Racys on the Main Street of Carrickmacross on January 20, 2018.

The incident left the 35-year-old in a coma, but he died five months later.

On Tuesday, Racys was sentenced to five years in jail for the fatal assault.

Speaking today, the family of Seamus Bell released a statement saying they were disappointed with the leniency of sentence.

"We had hoped that this week’s sentencing would bring some kind of closure to this part of our grief but the outcome has left us in further turmoil. To say we are disappointed with the outcome is an understatement.

"The judge in this case sentenced the defendant to five years and gave credit for the time he had already spent in custody; this means he will, more than likely, spend less than two and a half years behind bars for causing the death of Seamie," the family said in a statement.

In passing sentence on Tuesday Judge Aylmer had noted that this was an unprovoked attack in which the accused had followed Mr Bell on the street for at least five metres before striking him with a right-hand uppercut.

It had been accepted by the defendant that Mr Bell had his hands in his pockets at the time, so the inevitable consequences were that he fell to the ground without the protection of his arms.

Judge Aylmer said he had to take mitigating factors into account, which included the accused’s admissions and guilty plea, his cooperation and expressions of remorse and the apology he had given in court.

The Bell family said that their lives are "forever changed" and that they have not received justice.

"Considering the recognition of these points by the judge, the leniency of the sentence is extremely disappointing. Our lives are forever changed because of the actions of the perpetrator; the loss of a partner, son, brother and father will be felt by us for life, we will get no release from our sentence. We do not feel we have received justice for our loss."

The family thanked the public for their support but asked for privacy at this difficult time.

"We would like to thank the members of the public who have supported our family over the last 12 months since the attack on Seamie. The support we received while Seamie was in hospital and following his sad passing has provided great comfort to us as we continue to deal with the severe loss our family has gone through.

"We would like to ask the media and public to respect our privacy at this time while we decide what steps our family will take."

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