Man’s sentence for Loughlinstown manslaughter increased after DPP appeal over judge’s leniency

Appeal court found sentencing judge gave too much prominence to difficulties that would face Andrew Lacey’s family

A father of five who stabbed a man to death after being attacked on his way home from the pub has had his six-year prison sentence increased by nine months by the Court of Appeal.

The three-judge court found the sentencing judge gave too much prominence to the difficulties that would be faced by Andrew Lacey’s family after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) argued that his original term of 7½ years with 18 months suspended was unduly lenient.

Lacey fatally stabbed father-of-two Derek Reddin, who had lain in wait for Lacey and attacked him on a south Dublin street. The trial heard there had been a number of violent incidents between associates of the two men due to a falling-out over a “drunken” row.

Mr Justice George Birmingham on Friday said the appeal court agreed with the DPP that Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring erred in suspending 20 per cent of Lacey’s overall sentence. Ms Justice Ring suspended the 18 months solely because Lacey’s children, whom she described as innocent victims of the killing, would find the absence of their father difficult during critical years of their development.


Mr Justice Birmingham said any difficulties faced by Lacey’s children were not central to the sentencing hearing and had only emerged towards the end. He said the concerns expressed regarding the children were not at the extreme level that a court sometimes hears.

He said it is often the case that the imprisonment of a parent will have an impact on children, but if there are special conditions that require consideration by a sentencing judge, there should be “clear and cogent evidence in that regard”.

He said there is no evidential basis in this case for a 20 per cent suspension and he therefore quashed the sentence initially imposed. He imposed in its place a sentence of six years and nine months with no part suspended.

A jury found Lacey (35), of Riverside, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin, not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Reddin at Loughlinstown Drive on October 14th/15th, 2019.

At a hearing earlier this year, Róisín Lacey SC, for the DPP, told the Court of Appeal that Ms Justice Ring’s headline sentence of 8½ years with a discount of one year to reflect the mitigation in the case was wholly appropriate and the State did not take any issue with it. She said the sentence imposed was “impeccably reasoned” up to the point when the final 18 months was suspended.

Counsel said while there is no dispute that the impact on an offender’s family can give rise to mitigation, the issue in this case was whether the prominence afforded to the circumstances of one of the respondent’s children was “disproportionate” and gave rise to an unduly lenient sentence.

Ms Lacey said the contents of certain reports provided to the court, which were not read out, were referred to by counsel for the respondent at the sentencing hearing as indicating that two of his children had suffered with “educational issues”, which were exacerbated by the ongoing stress of the legal process and would be further so by their father’s absence.

She said having regard to the lack of a guilty plea in the case, the term of imprisonment ought to have remained at no less than the 7½ years arrived at by Ms Justice Ring.

Dominic McGinn SC, for Lacey, said the sentencing judge was “very careful” in going through the various factors involved. He said every sentence is different and it is always possible to find sentences that are higher and lower. He submitted that “the ultimate sentence was within the acceptable range”.