turmoil | 

Man who killed innocent father in unprovoked attack freed after less than four years

Lithuanian national Vytautas Racys assaulted Seamus Bell (35) who was out celebrating his twin daughters’ christening

Vytautas Racys killed Seamus Bell in an unprovoked attack. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

Ali Bracken

A man who killed an innocent father out celebrating his twin daughters’ christening has been released from jail, having served less than four years behind bars.

Vytautas Racys assaulted 35-year-old Seamus Bell in an unprovoked one-punch attack in 2018, leaving his victim in coma for five months before he died.

Racys was sentenced in January 2019 to five years in prison for the manslaughter of Mr Bell.

Now the Sunday World has confirmed the Lithuanian national has been released from prison, having served just three years and nine months.

As with all inmates, save for those on a life sentence or sex offenders, Racys was entitled to 25pc remission from his sentence.

Seamus Bell hours before the attack

One well-placed local source said the release of the convicted killer was “understandably very difficult” for the Bell family, so soon after his violent death.

Mr Bell, a father of three from Co Monaghan, had been out celebrating the christening of his twin daughters when he was attacked by Racys in the main street of Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, on January 20, 2018.

The attack left him in a coma, but he died five months later.

Speaking after Racys was jailed in 2019, the family of Mr Bell released a statement to say they were upset at the shortness of the prison sentence.

They said they had hoped the sentencing “would bring some kind of closure to this part of our grief but the outcome has left us in further turmoil. To say we are disappointed with the outcome is an understatement.

“The judge in this case sentenced the defendant to five years and gave credit for the time he had already spent in custody. This means he will, more than likely, spend less than two and a half years behind bars for causing the death of Seamie.”

In passing sentence at the time, Judge John Aylmer noted the assault was an unprovoked attack in which Racys had followed Mr Bell on the street for at least five metres before striking him with a right-hand uppercut.

It had been accepted by the defendant that Mr Bell had his hands in his pockets at the time, so the inevitable consequences were that he fell to the ground without the protection of his arms.

Judge Aylmer said he had to take mitigating factors into account, which included the accused’s admissions and guilty plea, his co-operation and expressions of remorse and the apology he had given in court.

Racys was a married father of two from Lithuania, who lived at Lough na Glack in Carrickmacross.

After sentence was passed, the Bell family said their lives were “forever changed” and they said they had not received justice.

“Considering the recognition of these points by the judge, the leniency of the sentence is extremely disappointing,” they said.

“Our lives are forever changed because of the actions of the perpetrator; the loss of a partner, son, brother and father will be felt by us for life, we will get no release from our sentence. We do not feel we have received justice for our loss.”

The family also spoke of their gratitude for the public backing they had received following Mr Bell’s death.

“We would like to thank the members of the public who have supported our family over the last 12 months since the attack on Seamie,” they said.

“The support we received while Seamie was in hospital and following his sad passing has provided great comfort to us as we continue to deal with the severe loss our family has gone through.”

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