Man's perjury sentence too lenient


THE COURT of Criminal Appeal has found the one-year jail term for perjury imposed on a Cork man whose refusal to give evidence in a murder trial led to its collapse was unduly lenient.

Thomas Morey (30), Gerald Griffin Street, Blackpool, Co Cork, was scheduled to give prosecution evidence at the Central Criminal Court trial in Dublin in February 2006 of two men charged with the murder of John Butler (20).

Morey took to the stand but refused to give evidence, claiming he could not remember the night in question.

As his was the only direct evidence proffered by the prosecution, the trial collapsed and the two accused men walked free from court.

Morey was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with one suspended by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in May 2010, after he pleaded guilty to one count of perjury and one count of perverting the course of justice.

The three-judge Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday overturned that sentence, having found Judge Ó Donnabháin failed to have regard to the principle of general deterrence when imposing sentence.

Paul Sreenan, for the State, had earlier submitted the sentencing judge appeared to have paid no regard to the principle of general deterrence when sentencing Morey, and that he failed to regard Morey’s refusal to give evidence as an aggravating factor.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, sitting with Mr Justice Michael Hanna and Mr Justice Daniel O’Keeffe, said the court was satisfied that the sentencing judge failed to give any reason for imposing a sentence of two years. He also held the sentencing judge did not take into account the circumstances of the collapse of the original trial.

Mr Justice Finnegan said it was important for a functioning society that people required to give evidence in criminal proceedings should do so.

Before the imposition of an appropriate sentence, Mr Justice Finnegan said the matter would be adjourned to allow Morey, who was not present for today’s hearing, to make submissions to the court.