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'The justice system has failed us', say family of man stabbed to death


Shauna Mulligan, the daughter of Martin Mulligan, speaking outside court. Photo: Collins

Shauna Mulligan, the daughter of Martin Mulligan, speaking outside court. Photo: Collins

Shauna Mulligan, the daughter of Martin Mulligan, speaking outside court. Photo: Collins

The family of a taxi driver who was stabbed and left to die on a country road has said the justice system failed them after his killer was jailed for six years.

Ms Justice Eileen Creedon sentenced Joseph Hillen (24) at the Central Criminal Court yesterday after a jury last year found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter for the killing of Martin Mulligan (53), at Carnmore, Balriggan, Dundalk, Co Louth, on September 28, 2015.

Following sentencing, Mr Mulligan's family, who previously described his death as "brutal" and "vicious", wept and comforted one another.


Outside court, Mr Mulligan's daughter Shauna said: "The justice system has really failed us.

"It's so unfair that you could take somebody's life and not really pay the price for it."

Mr Mulligan's other daughter, Sharon, said the family is "devastated" and added that it was unfair that Hillen's account of what happened on the night her father died was taken as "gospel" because he was not there to give his side.

Mr Mulligan's wife, Grainne, said it felt as if her family had been given a life sentence.

She described her husband as kind and funny and a "great family man, great father, great husband, great sibling. Everyone loved him".

Ms Justice Creedon said Hillen, of Glendesha Road, Forkhill, Co Armagh, stabbed Mr Mulligan following a dispute in the early hours in a rural area near Dundalk.

When questioned by gardai, Hillen initially denied all knowledge of Mr Mulligan's death, but before his trial he made a voluntary statement in which he said he was driving by land owned by his friend in the early hours of the morning when he believed he saw Mr Mulligan illegally dumping rubbish.

There was a row and Hillen said the deceased pulled a knife on him, but he managed to "flip it" and while being struck on the top of his head he "jabbed out" twice and inflicted the fatal wounds.

Ms Justice Creedon said she took into account Hillen's offer to plead guilty ahead of his trial.

She added that the jury's decision meant it accepted that he believed he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Mr Mulligan but that he used excessive force.

She also took into account his previous history of employment, that he was in a stable relationship, had expressed remorse, had some insight into the harm inflicted on the Mulligan family and had no previous convictions for violence.

She noted that he is considered at moderate risk of re-offending.

The judge set the headline sentence at 10 years.

Taking into consideration the mitigating factors, she reduced that to seven years and suspended the final year on condition he be of good behaviour, keep the peace and engage with probation services.

At a sentence hearing last month, Shauna Mulligan said she had the "privilege and honour of having my dad in my life for 25 years until he was brutally, viciously and inhumanely killed for no fault of his own".


She said he was her role model and his happiest times were those spent with his family.

The circumstances of his death had left her "vulnerable and afraid to face life without him", she added.

Mr Mulligan met his wife when they were teenagers and they were about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary when he was killed.

Mrs Mulligan said she would always be haunted by the way her husband died.

"On the side of the road, alone without me or his family around him. I always wonder, did he cry out for me?" she said.

"I always thought we would grow old together, looking after each other and enjoying our grandchildren, the way it should be."