Judge no stranger to controversy
Profile: As presiding judge in the Central Criminal Court Mr Justice Paul Carney is no stranger to controversy, dealing as he does with many of the State’s highest profile rape and murder cases.
The shadow of the appeals court was evident in Mr Justice Carney’s original decision on Monday to release rapist Patrick O'Brien (72) of Old Court Avenue, Bray, on bail pending appeal, after sentencing him to 12 years in jail, with nine suspended, for the rape and indecent assault of his daughter Fiona Doyle over a ten-year period.
On Monday Mr Justice Carney noted that in another judgment, the Kennedy case in 2009, the Court of Criminal Appeal suspended a moderate sentence imposed of the basis on the health of the accused. The ill-health of rapist Patrick O’Brien (72) was one of the factors in Mr Justice’s Carney’s original bail decision on Monday, which he reversed today.
Illness was a factor in the Kennedy case where a nine-month sentence he imposed on James (Bud) Kennedy of Cherryfield Road, Walkinstown for indecent assault was suspended on appeal. The appeals court said Mr Justice Carney gave insufficient weight to the declining health of the very old man.
There have been several other high profile cases in which the Court of Criminal Appeal rebuked cases presided over by the judge.
It ordered a retrial in the case of Mayo farmer Padraig Nally of Claremorris, Co Mayo, for shooting dead Traveller John 'Frog' Ward in 2005.
Nally had been jailed for 11 months by a court presided over by Mr Justice Carney but the Court of Criminal Appeal ruled the jury should have been allowed to consider the full defence of self-defence. Nally was later freed.
In 1999 Mr Justice Carney gave a 10-year sentence to former nun Nora Wall for a rape conviction. Her conviction was overturned on appeal.
There have also been cases where the appeals court ruled his sentencing too lenient or severe.
In 2007 Mr Justice Carney gave Adam Keane a three-year suspended sentence after he was convicted of raping Mary Shannon, both from Daragh Co Clare.
The judge said it was out of character and Keane came from a respectable home. The appeals court increased the sentence to 10 years with the last three suspended. It said Mr Justice Carney seemed to have "ignored" aggravating factors, including that Keane illegally entered Ms Shannon's home and raped her while she was asleep.
A major factor in keeping the Fiona Doyle’s rape case in the public spotlight in the last week was the victim’s decision to go public.
This was not the first time Mr Justice Carney has seen such action. In 1993 he imposed a seven-year sentence on a man who admitted to the rape, incest and assault of his daughter over a 16-year-period. The daughter, who was made pregnant by her father, appeared on television in silhouette to say she did not feel the sentence was long enough, a view shared at the time by the then minister for justice Maire Geoghan-Quinn
A man of outspoken views, he has frequently provoked controversy with his opinions.
In a 2007 address to the Law Society at UCC he said that any victim of crime who willfully abuses the victim impact procedure would be dealt with firmly by the courts. The address was understood to be referring to the departure from a statement by Robert Holohan’s mother at the trial of neighbour Wayne O'Donoghue, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Midleton .
At the sentencing hearing Ms Holohan departed from an agreed victim impact statement to ask why semen was found on her son's body, information which had not been introduced by the prosecution.
A 2008 a murder conviction in of the Warren and Jeffrey Dumbrell of Inchicore was deemed "unsafe" by the appeals court because of comments made by the trial judge, Mr Justice Carney, in a speech he gave while presiding over the case. Mr Justice Carney's speech included statements on issues relevant including fatal stabbings and sentencing policy.
Mr Justice Carney was born in 1943 to two distinguished Celtic Scholars. He was educated at Gonzaga College and King's Inns and was called to the Bar in 1966 and appointed a High Court judge in 1991.
As a junior council his career was marked by a number of pro bono publico cases including when he acted for a prisoner and as a result a judge ruled that toilet facilities in Mountjoy were a health hazard.
He was an election agent during to General Elections for former Tánaiste Michael McDowell of the Progressive Democrats. He is married to medical barrister Dr Marjorie Young and has four grown-up children.