Wednesday 24 April 2019

Don't waste life in prison - judge

Sentencing hearing took place before Judge Kevin Kilrane at Sligo District Court sitting at the courthouse at Teeling Street
Sentencing hearing took place before Judge Kevin Kilrane at Sligo District Court sitting at the courthouse at Teeling Street

"You have a great future in front of you. Don't throw it away in prison. I urge you don't destroy your life and you will in prison," Judge Kevin Kilrane said to a young man he sentenced to 21 months in prison with 14 months suspended with conditions at Sligo District Court on Thursday.

Earlier, the court heard from the defendant's step-father who said he couldn't understand why Ivan Gethins, described as being talented with horses and a competitive sheep shearer had spiralled into a life of crime.

Gethins (27) with an address at Garavogue Villas was before the court on a number of charges.

These included trespass at Sligo Gaol on March 25th 2018, criminal damage at Sligo Garda station on April 16 2018, trespass at the Blue Lagoon on June 11th 2018, burglary at Fowley's of Dromahair on November 28th 2017, theft from Heatons on March 5th 2018 and with not having insurance, a driving licence and dangerous driving on three separate dates, 21st November 201, 21st February 2018 and 25th February 2018. Gethjns was further charged with criminal damage and public order on September 28th 2018 and handling stolen property on May 19th 2016.

Judge Kilrane said that the facts speak for themselves and enquired as to whether Gethins had any previous convictions.

Insepctor Donal Sweeney told the court the 27-year-old had a number of previous convictions including for theft and not having insurance.

Defending solicitor Mr Mark Mullaney told the judge the defendant wished to hand in a letter addressed to him which were Gethins's own words setting out an understanding of why he had taken a wrong turn in his life.

Mr Mullaney added that a comprehensive psychiatric report was carried out on his client and it emphasised in full his past psychiatric history and gave insight into his addiction difficulties which also included unresolved bereavement issues.

He said that Gethins wants to turn his life around after a custodial sentence and Mr Mullaney then told the court he would like to call on one witness, his step-father, George Downey.

Mr Downey told the judge the background to how he got to know Ivan. He said the way he is now is not the way he had planned for him.

Mr Mullaney put it to Mr Downey what he thought made Gethins go off the rails and he replied that he couldn't understand it, adding that if he lives to be 100 he probably never would understand what happened to Ivan.

He said that he 'loved him to bits' and that on his release he was not going to go back on the path he was on, adding that he would go straight to gardaí.

Mr Downey said that Ivan was brilliant with horses and had entered sheep shearing competitions and that he has plenty of work for him on in a small farm of land he owns as he is a diabetic and unable to work it himself.

Judge Kilrane thanked Mr Downey for his background on Gethins, which he described as very helpful.

He said the defendant's behaviour in this case as one of where he was given a chance that he would re-offend while on bail and said his behaviour was irrational and he was not sure why he does this.

He said that his actions and the effect on other people and the harm done meant that he has to serve a significant period.

He explained that he was going to structure sentencing in a way that it gives hope to Gethins that it will give him a chance with rehabilitation when he comes out of prison.

He sentenced him to 21 months in prison and suspended the last 14 months.

There were a number of terms of suspension.

These included that while Gethins is in prison that he avails of all the treatment for his addictions or otherwise and that on his release fortwith he attends addiction services.

Gethins was also ordered not to re-offend and to sign on at Sligo Garda Station once a month.

These terms of suspension are for a period of 2 years post release.

Mr Mullaney told the judge that he certainly structured sentencing in such a crafted way that it gives his client a lot of hope and the end of the tunnel.

The sentence was backdated to when Gethins had his bail revoked on September 27th 2018.

Judge Kilrane told Gethins that he was very impressed with Mr Downey and from what he could gather the defendant had a difficult relationship with his own father.

He said Gethins displayed a defiance of the court in that he would go on to re-offend on the same day after appearing in court of the next day.

He said to Gethins that it appeared he was a talented young man according to Mr Downey regarding looking after to horses.

He told Gethins that he has a great future in front of him and not to throw it away by spending it in prison.

He urged him not to destroy his life by being in prison. "If you breach the terms you will go back to prison for the 21 months and serve every day of it," he warned.

Sligo Champion