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'Much-loved' Kildare grandfather lost control and stabbed daughter's violent partner

CourtsBy Sunday World
'Much-loved' Kildare grandfather lost control and stabbed daughter's violent partner

A "much loved grandfather" who, against the background of significant domestic violence, lost control and stabbed his daughter's partner when he heard him abuse her over the phone, has had his jail term cut on appeal.

Brian Hynes (64), with an address in Carbury, Co Kildare, had pleaded guilty at Naas Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm and producing an article at the home of his daughter and partner on October 16, 2010.

He was sentenced to four year years imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended by Judge Michael O'Shea on June 21, 2012.

Hynes was granted bail pending his appeal against sentence which resulted in a new sentence of four years imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half years suspended on Thursday - reducing his jail term by one year.

Giving judgment in the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice John Edwards said Hynes' daughter had been in a 20-year-long "difficult relationship" with the injured party and they had two young children together – Hynes' grandchildren.

The prosecution's case was that Hynes was at home when his daughter, who was visiting, received an audibly "abusive and implicitly threatening" phone call from her partner "railing about why she was not yet home", Mr Justice Edwards said.

Hynes, who had been drinking, armed himself with "a bayonet-type knife" and walked over to his daughter and partner's home which was minutes away. He "immediately attacked the injured party in a frenzy", inflicting six stab wounds to the leg, the judge said.

Hynes told gardai that he brought the knife "probably to protect myself and just to frighten him. I had no intention of doing harm to him. It was just scare tactics, but I can't recall even being there."

The prosecuting garda told the sentencing court that Hynes was a "good, hardworking man", that there had been a significant history of domestic violence in his daughter's relationship and, as a result, Hynes and his wife were "often left to pick up the pieces; minding their grandchildren."

It was a "very sad situation...for everybody", according to the prosecuting garda, and wouldn't have happened but for the sad family history and Hynes' intoxication on the night in question.

The sentencing court heard that Hynes had remonstrated with the injured party on previous occasions in relation to the treatment of his daughter and had never reacted with violence.

The difficulties experienced by his daughter had led to him developing a difficulty with alcohol and the abusive phone call was "the straw that broke the camel's back", the sentencing court was told.

Hynes had no previous convictions, had never come to adverse garda attention and was normally inclined to repress his anger, the Court of Appeal judgment stated.

Also in mitigation was his guilty plea, his cooperation with gardai, his genuine remorse as well as the fact that he was a good family man and a "much-loved grandfather".

Counsel for Hynes, Kieran Kelly BL, submitted that the sentencing judge erred in indicating that his "hands were tied" by the seriousness of the offence and, as a result, did not proceed to an open-minded, appropriate evaluation of the mitigating factors.

Mr Justice Edwards said it was an "exceptional case" involving significant genuine provocation offered to a psychologically vulnerable person who had began using drink as an ill-conceived "coping mechanism for dealing with multiple adversities".

The "undoubted provocation" presented by the abusive phone call to his daughter came "against a background of her being the victim of significant previous domestic violence at the hands of her partner".

Mr Justice Edwards said the evidence strongly indicated a loss of self control that accompanies genuine provocation rather than any self indulgent outburst of extreme rage. It was clear that what occurred was "utterly out of character".

He said that the sentencing judge erred in giving inadequate discount for the various mitigating factors and Hynes' original sentence was set aside.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, resentenced Hynes to four years imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half years suspended.

Hynes was required to enter into a good behaviour bond of €500 for the suspended period.

Ruaidhrí Giblin