Thursday 21 November 2019

Questions for the judge

Yesterday's decision by Judge Sean O Donnabhain to reverse his previous decision and suspend all of an 18-month jail sentence he had imposed on a garda who had pleaded guilty to a savage assault raises important questions which need to be answered.

Why did Judge O Donnabhain, who on Thursday determined that Dean Foley should serve six months of his sentence with the remaining 12 months being suspended, decide on Friday that the entire sentence should be suspended? The U-turn flew in the face of the normal legal convention that the trial judge's role is at an end once sentence has been passed, and followed a virtually unprecedented request from Foley's barrister to reconsider the sentence.

No doubt Judge O Donnabhain had very good reasons for his decision.

Confidence in the criminal justice system would be greatly enhanced if he were to make those reasons public.

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