Thug jailed for violent disorder has prison sentence increased

Thug jailed for violent disorder has prison sentence increased

A Dublin man jailed for violent disorder in the home of a “harmless soul” in county Cavan two years ago has had his prison sentence increased by the Court of Appeal.

John Doyle (26), of Maudlin Street, Kells, Co Meath had pleaded guilty at Cavan Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder in the home William White (59) at Saint Mary's Terrace, Belturbet, Co Cavan on Monday February 24 2014.

Doyle had initially been charged with burglary and assault causing harm to Mr White but his plea to violent disorder on its own was accepted on a full facts basis by prosecutors.

Judge John O'Hagan subsequently sentenced him to two years imprisonment on June 3, 2015.

However, Doyle's sentence was increased to five years imprisonment with the final two suspended yesterday following a successful appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions on grounds that his original term was “unduly lenient”.

Giving judgment in the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice John Edwards said Doyle was one of four men who broke into the home of Mr White between 9pm and 11pm on the date in question.

Mr White lived alone, was held in high esteem in the local community and was regarded as vulnerable, Mr Justice Edwards said.

The four men pushed through his unlocked kitchen door and one man put a knife to the left side of his face, Mr Justice Edwards said. He was told his throat would be cut and that they would kill him.

Mr White was hit on the top of the head with a steel object. He fell onto the couch and all four men began kicking him, the judge said.

They put a bucket over his head, threatened to pour hot ashes on his stomach and threatened to put him in the open fire, Mr Justice Edwards said.

Mr White, who was covered in blood and thought he was going to die, sought assistance from his neighbours once he got away from his assailants, the judge said.

He had a large laceration to his scalp, a stab wound to his left jaw, multiple bruising, injuries to his hand and fractures of the nose. He did not wish to make a vicitm impact statement but in many respects "the injuries speak for themselves", the judge said.

Counsel for the DPP, Monica Lawlor BL, submitted that the sentence of two years did not reflect the gravity of the offence and the physical and psychological harm caused to Mr White.

Ms Lawlor said Mr White was a “harmless soul” who had lived a simple life in the house he was reared in.

He used to leave the back-door unlocked, Ms Lawlor said, but now he locks the doors and windows behind him, was extremely nervous and only ventured out in daylight hours.

Ms Lawlor said the four men had only recently relocated to the small town from Dublin and Doyle had been living in the area for one year.

She said a probation report found Doyle to have a moderate risk of re-offending, that he failed to express empathy towards his victim and did not express remorse for his actions.

Mr Justice Edwards said Doyle had eight previous convictions including convictions for criminal damage, theft and handling stolen property.

The judge said it was not accepted by Doyle that he was the wielder of the knife, despite contentions that the “prosecution have no doubt” that he was.

In circumstances where that contention was not accepted by Doyle and there had been no hearing on the matter in the Circuit Court, the Court of Appeal must approach the case on the basis that no individual action was being attributed to him, Mr Justice Edwards said.

Mr Justice Edwards, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the court considered this “a bad case” meriting a sentence of five years imprisonment.

Affording a “generous allowance” of mitigation, Mr Justice Edwards said the court would suspend the final two years for a period of five years.

Doyle was required to enter into his own bond of €100 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the suspended period. When asked if he undertook to be so bound, he said 'yeah'.