Judge postpones sentencing men in Wexford death case
A JUDGE has adjourned sentencing four men accused of impeding the investigation into a killing due to comments in a highly critical victim impact statement read in court.
Mr Justice Barry White was due to sentence the men in the Central Criminal Court yesterday, having heard the evidence and victim impact statement on Monday.
Two Lithuanian men, a Polish man and an Irish man have pleaded guilty to disposing of and trying to destroy the body of a 30-year-old woman in Wexford last year.
Rebecca French was found dead in the boot of her burning car on October 9th, 2009 on the outskirts of Wexford town. The four defendants were found walking near by and it was the prosecution’s case that Ms French had been beaten to death with golf clubs, punched, kicked and stamped on in the house of one of the defendants beforehand.
The Lithuanian defendants, Ricardas Dilys (28), Ruslanas Mineikas (26), of Goodtide Harbour and formerly of Davitt Road South, both in Wexford town, were on trial in October for her murder, pleading not guilty.
The murder charges were dropped when a legal technicality meant their admissions in Garda custody could not be used against them and they pleaded guilty to the lesser crime. Gardaí then said they would not be looking for anyone else in connection with what they believed was a murder.
The other men, Patrick O’Connor (41), of Ard Na Dara, Clonard, Wexford, and 27-year-old Polish man Piotr Pasiak, of Lower John Street in Wexford, had already pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation and were never on trial for murder.
The victim’s sister, Rachel French, read a victim impact statement to the court on Monday on behalf of the French family.
“People with criminal records in their own country should never be allowed to live among us,” she said, referring to Mineikas and Dilys’s previous convictions in Lithuania. “The country has enough to deal with,” she added. “Justice in Ireland is sleeping while its people are dying.”
Mr Justice White yesterday said he had not seen the report before it was read in court and now required the DPP to see it and express his view on its contents.
He noted that it contained criticisms of either the DPP, the Minister for Justice or himself.
“The victim impact report displays either a lack of appreciation for the presumption of innocence, a lack of appreciation for the concept of joint enterprise or a lack of appreciation for the judicial function,” he said.
However, he added that there may well be appreciation, but contempt for the court process or the law. He noted that the French family had sought legal advice on the matter. “Justice might not be seen to be done . . . particularly by non-nationals, having regard to the xenophobic nature of some of the comments,” he said.
“We are an ordered and lawful society,” he said. He explained that if there was an appeal on the severity of the sentence, the victim impact report would be produced to the appeal court.
He said he would like the DPP to express his opinion on whether he (Mr Justice White) should step aside as judge in the case or whether another report was necessary. He also said he would like to advise the DPP that in the future he would not accept a victim impact statement being presented to him while being read in court.
He adjourned the matter until December 10th for the DPP’s decision.
EXTRACTS OF VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT GIVEN BY RACHEL FRENCH ON MONDAY
“We, the family of Rebecca French, want the people of Ireland to know that justice for our beautiful girls has not been given”
“The Garda in Wexford, having done such a fantastic job catching these animals, had all their hard work thrown back in their faces”
“God’s law is an eye for an eye”
“To know the details of your daughter’s, sister’s last minutes, knowing they must have been one of pure hell, that she was leaving behind the two most beautiful little girls, whom she loved with all her heart, and who some of these excuses of humanity actually met, will never leave our hearts or minds”
“To say that what they did in that house is something from a horror film does not do it justice, but then to make a conscious decision to place her in a car to dispose of in such a manner is something that not any decent person would stand by and allow”
“They stole from us the right to say goodbye, for a mother to hold her baby one last time and for her daughters to kiss their mammy goodnight for the last time”
“Who knows what the future holds for any of us but the heartbreak her girls will face when they discover the truth about their mother’s death and that their country has let them down is something that we will have to face as a family”
“Our country needs to put in place a straightforward system written by people who actually have to deal with these inhuman kinds of people and not by someone who sits in an office outside the realms of reality”
“People with criminal records in their own country should never be allowed to live among us”
“The country has enough to deal with”
“Justice in Ireland is sleeping while its people are dying”