Sentences for killing of teacher increased

Tue, Jun 26, 2012, 01:00

TWO CLARE men who killed a 26-year-old schoolteacher after an unprovoked attack on St Stephen’s Day in 2009 have had their jail sentences increased by two years following a successful appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Harry Dinan (31), of Waterpark Heights, Ennis, and his nephew Kevin Dinan (24), of Clarehill, Clarecastle, were originally jailed for five and four years respectively having pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Brian Casey on O’Connell Square, Ennis, on December 26th, 2009.

Following an appeal by the DPP last December, the Court of Criminal Appeal found that the sentences imposed by Judge Carroll Moran at Limerick Circuit Court in November 2010 were unduly lenient.

Yesterday at the Criminal Courts of Justice complex on Dublin’s Parkgate Street, presiding judge Mr Justice Liam McKechnie said the appeal court had determined the appropriate sentence with regard to Harry Dinan was seven years while Kevin Dinan should be jailed for six years.

Mr Justice McKechnie described the offences as “utterly unprovoked, cowardly brutal and grossly violent” attacks “senseless in their origin and execution” that had caused the death of a “young man with his entire life ahead of him”.

He said it was clear Brian Casey was a “totally innocent” bystander who had “no chance” of defending himself from a “reprehensible series of acts”.

Mr Justice McKechnie said the court again wished to express its condolences to the relatives and friends of Mr Casey, and to all who had suffered as a result of “this terrible tragedy”.

Limerick Circuit Criminal Court heard that Harry Dinan, who has 64 previous convictions, was on temporary release from prison at the time of the killing, while Kevin Dinan, who has 17 previous convictions, was on bail and awaiting sentence having pleaded guilty to a burglary charge.

Mr Casey was looking on at a scuffle, with his hands in his pockets, when he was caught off guard by a severe “haymaker” punch inflicted by Harry Dinan at about midnight. The blow broke Mr Casey’s jaw in two places and the Lissycasey man fractured his skull on impact with the ground. The court heard Kevin Dinan punched Mr Casey repeatedly to the face and head while he lay on the ground. He never regained consciousness and died two days later.

Deirdre Murphy SC, for the State, had argued that Judge Moran had erred in principle by placing excessive weight on the contention that the attack perpetrated by Harry Dinan was essentially a “one punch case”.

She said that, having regard to the concept of a one punch case, Judge Moran correctly identified an appropriate sentence of 10 years for each man, but then proceeded to err and effect a “double counting” exercise by further reducing the sentences imposed on account of this factor.