Mother of stab victim claims lack of justice

 

THE MOTHER of a man stabbed to death in his own home said there was “no justice system in this country” after his killer was sentenced to nine years in prison for his manslaughter.

The Dublin man had previously been sentenced to life in prison for his murder, but the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned his conviction and ordered a retrial at the Central Criminal Court.

Martin Toland (36), a father of one from Walkinstown Park, was last month found guilty of the manslaughter of Alan Nolan (28) at his apartment in Cedar Brook Walk, Ballyfermot, Dublin, on September 8th, 2007. He had denied his murder.

Toland was also sentenced to a concurrent seven years in prison for seriously injuring Mr Nolan’s friend, James Carroll (now 32) on the same occasion. He had denied that charge too, insisting he had stabbed both men in their hearts in self-defence.

Mr Justice Barry White said yesterday the jury had not believed his account of having been threatened by the victims and of having acted in self-defence; the jury had actually found him guilty of manslaughter by reason of provocation, something he had denied in Garda interviews.

The judge said he had to accept the jury’s verdict and also Toland’s account of picking the knife up in Alan Nolan’s apartment.

“Fatal stabbings ought to attract lengthy sentences,” he said, adding that elements in society resorted to knives to resolve differences and had little or no respect for human life.

Mr Justice White noted there was always more than one victim, as Mr Nolan had left behind a family and friends. He said he felt a sentence of 14 years would be appropriate.

“Fortunately for you . . . I’m constrained by the Court of Criminal Appeal from imposing such a sentence,” he said.

Mr Justice White took into account that Toland was not of good character, having offended before. He noted that he appeared to have offended while on bail awaiting his retrial. However, he said he could not take that conviction into account as it was under appeal.

He gave Toland credit for calling the emergency services and not fleeing the scene and imposed a nine-year sentence on the manslaughter count.

The judge added that Mr Carroll was lucky to be alive. “You’re fortunate that you’re not facing a double manslaughter sentence,” he told Toland. “If you hadn’t called the emergency services, he mightn’t be alive today.”

Mr Justice White noted that Toland had been sentenced to a concurrent seven years for that offence following his original conviction and he considered this appropriate.

As Toland had spent 21 months in custody after his original trial, Mr Justice White suspended 2½ years of each sentence.

Afterwards, Mr Nolan’s mother, Marian Nolan, said: “To say we’re disappointed is an understatement. The judge said he felt he should have given him 14 years but his hands were tied by the Court of Criminal Appeal.”

She said she was very disillusioned with the legal system.

“Disgusted is not the word. There is no system. There is no justice system in this country . . . We will never get over it.”