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investigation disruption Lawyers say man who arranged to meet dissident republican at his murder scene should not be jailed

Ray Kennedy was found guilty of perverting the course of justice by destroying a SIM card, an item the State has said "would have been of very significant evidential value" to the murder investigation

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Peter Butterly

Peter Butterly

Peter Butterly

Lawyers for a man who had arranged to meet dissident republican Peter Butterly at the scene of his "execution-type" murder and was found guilty of disrupting the Garda investigation have argued that he should not be jailed.

Ray Kennedy (41) of Whitestown Drive, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice by destroying a mobile phone SIM card on March 6, 2013, an item the State has said "would have been of very significant evidential value" to the murder investigation.

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The scene of the murder of Peter Butterly

The scene of the murder of Peter Butterly

The scene of the murder of Peter Butterly

 

It was Kennedy's second trial in connection with the murder. In December 2019, after a 36-day trial, the non-jury court directed that Kennedy be found not guilty of IRA membership after gardaí refused to release secret material in the case, despite a court ruling that it should be disclosed.

Four men - Kevin Braney (45), of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, Dublin 24; Edward McGrath (38), of Land Dale Lawns, Springfield, Tallaght; Sharif Kelly (50), of Pinewood Green Road, Balbriggan and Dean Evans (28), of Grange Park Rise, Raheny, Dublin - have all already received life sentences at the Special Criminal Court following convictions for Mr Butterly's murder.

Two other men - Michael McDermott (60), of Riverdale House, Garrymore, Ballinagh, Co Cavan and Frank Murphy (59), of McDonagh Caravan Park, Triton Road, Bettystown, Co Meath, who played roles in the murder of Mr Butterly - have also been jailed.

On Monday at the Special Criminal Court, defence counsel John D Fitzgerald SC argued for a non-custodial sentence from the three-judge court, primarily due to Mr Kennedy's baby daughter needing around-the-clock care for a brittle-bone condition.

Mr Fitzgerald said that the charge of perverting the course of justice was "utterly isolated" from any other previous convictions.

Detective Garda Dermot Morris told Paul O'Higgins SC, prosecuting, that Kennedy had 12 previous road traffic offences convictions but that in this case that the defendant had been co-operative and engaged voluntarily with gardaí.

Mr Fitzgerald said that Kennedy had grown up in Cabra, had a non-criminal background, was committed to his wife and her two children from another relationship and to their own daughter, who was born in March of last year.

Counsel said that there were letters before the court from employers saying that Kennedy was "trustworthy, honest and reliable" and told the court that there was work available for the defendant should he avoid jail.

Mr Fitzgerald said that Kennedy was a family man who worked in security management, was with his partner for 21 years and that he had raised his partner's two now-adult children as his own.

Counsel said that his client had "completely turned his life around and forged a constructive one".

Mr Fitzgerald said that his client's young daughter had been diagnosed with the life-long condition of osteogenesis imperfecta, which left the child with both brittle bones and difficulty breathing.

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Counsel said that the child needed around-the-clock care and that she had to use an oxygen machine and that she had to be carried everywhere, including to regular hospital visits.

Mr Fitzgerald said that Kennedy regretted ever becoming involved in the events surrounding the 2013 murder and that his client would "do anything that the court required of him" to allow him [Kennedy] to continue with his daughter and partner.

Counsel said that he did not believe that any precedent in law would be set by the granting of a non-custodial sentence, given the unusual background circumstances.

The lawyer added that during the two-and-a-half week trial - in acknowledgement of the circumstances of the accused - the prosecution and the defence agreed that Kennedy could attend his trial by video-link, which Mr Fitzgerald described as "unprecedented". 

Presiding judge at the non-jury court Mr Justice Tony Hunt adjourned the case to July 12, for sentence. He said that while he was giving no indication either way to counsel, a custodial sentence had to be considered to be "on the radar".

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