Judge Of The Day


Judge John O’Hagan

A man who beat a woman so badly he left the print of his shoe on her body had his two-year prison term substituted to 240 hours’ community service.
Eamon Harkin beat up then-girlfriend Danielle Kerrigan for more than 90 minutes on St Valentine’s Night two years ago. He only stopped his attack to get a drink of water.
…Judge John O’Hagan said there was “simply no excuse for assaulting a defenceless woman”.
He said drink was no excuse but he was impressed by the fact Harkin had no previous convictions and had not got into any trouble since.
…Judge O’Hagan said if Harkin had not pleaded guilty but been found guilty by a jury, he would have been jailed for between two and three years.


Community Service For Man Who Beat Partner (Stephen Maguire and Catherine Shanahan, Irish Examiner)

47 thoughts on “Judge Of The Day

    1. Oilean

      I agree……………. some of these judges are so out of touch with reality, this particular fellah would easily qualify for the Dail. What a sickeningly menial penalty for a awful offence!

  1. Oldmanfitz

    If you beat someone up for 90mins then there is something seriously wrong with you. This guy needs help, 240hrs of therapy not community service.

    and the law needs to be changed to stop people getting away with crazy stuff like this just because they plead guilty!

    1. Jess

      This. Shit, 90 minutes? If he killed her would they have upped it to a round 250 hours? :I

      Judgements like this are chilling(is it just Broadsheet’s cherrypicking, or are they ALL violence against women?). I don’t believe in revenge sentencing, but this kind of behaviour needs stopping, just a cursory slap on the wrist. He ‘hasn’t been into any trouble since’… yet.

      1. Niall

        It is just broadsheet’s cherrypicking. There’s a trend towards non custodial sentencing for all offences at the moment, because the money isn’t there.


        Do you think Fine Gael really want to give up their law and order credentials? Of course, this kind of “out of touch judges” campaign lets the blueshirts neatly sidestep their responsibility for this – if they’d forced a deal on the bank debt, then there’d be more funds available for prisons. But yeah, sure, it’s all the judges’ fault.

        Having said that, it’s probably a positive thing that less people are being sent to jail – a high incarceration rate makes the crime problem worse, not better. Just look at the US for one example. But if it’s not jail it doesn’t count, right?

        For a site that generally comes down in a fairly progressive direction, I have to seriously question broadsheet’s editorial direction in banging on with this tough on crime stuff – highlighting extreme cases as examples of a criminal justice system gone mad and never once mentioning that it’s open to the DPP to appeal against leniency in all of these cases, if the judges really are such wooly liberals, and this hasn’t yet been done.

        1. ElZilcho

          Sorry Niall, but:


          Of course, you’d think we’re in the middle of a massive crimewave on the basis of this type of increase in the prison population, but alas, I suspect that not everyone has been committed for being the kind of psycho who’s the subject of this post.

          Mind you, for the person who brought up the example of the garlic importer, tax-dodgers are no victims.

  2. Gerri

    Is it ok if I just send my two and six to The
    Gathering and not attend in person ? Some things make me sick to the stomach !

    1. Niall

      Poor choice of term – but every judge is obliged to take a clean record into consideration when fixing sentence. And proper order too.

      I’m probably going to provoke a sh!tstorm here, but CSOs have been shown to be more effective in preventing reoffending than prison – “an expensive way of making bad people worse”. When he had a clean record and hasn’t come to the attention of the authorities before, it might do more harm than good to jail him.

      Pretty certain that he’d be locked up if the money was there, mind.

      1. yourcommentisawaitingmoderation

        Niall he beat his girlfriend for 90 minutes, only stopping for a glass of water. The probability is high that this is not his first offense, just the first time it has been reported to the police.

        1. Niall

          “The probability is high”

          You don’t know that. You’re just assuming based on scant information. Bear in mind that professional psychologists and social workers will have assessed this guy before he was deemed suitable for a CSO – are you suggesting that you’re better placed than they are to make that call, based on a few paragraphs in the paper?

          Also, just because it’s not prison doesn’t mean it isn’t punishment.

          1. Trueblue

            I couldn’t agree more with your comments Niall. If in the opinion of the professionals involved in the case, who have far more information than ourselves, it is better for the offender to serve a CSO instead of prison then I am inclined to think that this is the best option for all involved. Why send a man to prison for two years, which will likely lead to more problems arising from him, instead of giving him another form of punishment which will likely serve the public better. Prison is not the only punishment available to the courts and nor should it be.

      2. jmcaree

        Niall: Taking a clean record into account would be fine for a minor crime. This is a serious, heinous act of violence which will have long-lasting effects on the victim. Money is tight right now, sure, but a measly 240 hours of Commnity Service is not a punishment which comes close to fitting the crime. Between this and the recent sexual assault case, where the perpetrator was able to pay a (fairly small) amount to the victim to avoid jail time, there are a disturbing number of cases recently involving violence against women where the criminals are effectively escaping justice.

        I’d find whatever studies you could cite about re-offenders to be pretty dubious, but regardless of the apparent effectiveness of custodial sentences on re-offending, this guy should not be walking the streets after what he did to that girl over 90 minutes, and what he will have done to her for the rest of her life.

        1. Niall

          “I’d find whatever studies you could cite about re-offenders to be pretty dubious”

          Well, seeing as I haven’t even cited any yet, that kind of tells its own story.

          For the record, I personally think that some kind of custodial sentence probably would have been appropriate in this case, and indeed in the overwhelming majority of cases of interpersonal violence. Problem is that there isn’t the money, so wherever they can, judges are turning to non-custodial options.

          BUT, the evidence suggests that you’d have more reason to be scared of this guy after his having served a custodial sentence, coming out hardened, than of having him on the streets right now.

          That’s the fact of the matter on an empirical basis: in general non-custodial sentences produce less recidivism, certainly more effective than sentences of two years or less. There’s an argument that longer sentences combined with programs to deal with offending behaviour are more effective again, but we don’t really have these programs in our prisons anyhow.


          It’s not up to me to tell you how to feel about it, but let’s be clear, retribution isn’t the only valid aim in sentencing – if this guy never reoffends, then the sentence will have to be viewed on balance as having been successful.

  3. iva hoogeone

    Would the sentence have been the same if the victim had been the judges daughter/ female relative?
    When was this judgement given, I dont recall reading about this case in the press last week, or was it reported at all?

  4. Jolly

    Very impressive. Jesus.
    It’s like someone being sentenced to jail for beating their partner to death – and then being let out early for not doing it since.

  5. Murtles

    Everyone knows Judges are cut from the same jib as politicians and are so up their own arses, they’re not even living in the same world as us Joe Soaps. Life is comfortable inside the ivy clad houses and the leather seats in the Mercs. The judiciary and judical system needs and overhaul from the top down, but sure what desn’t need an overhaul in this Country.

  6. Oh Danny Boy.......

    Minimum sentencing is required in this country. Some of the judges are clearly out of touch with reality cant be trusted to hand down fair and just sentences.

    We start by ending concurrent sentences, mandatory 25% remission and brining back the death penalty (not for assault obviously)

        1. Oh Danny Boy.......

          I never said mandatory sentences would reduce crime. It would how ever stop judges giving out stupid sentences. Pay a fine/ community service for things in the arab world youd be hung. A good example of where mandatory sentences and the death penalty actually work.

          1. Niall

            So … we’re agreed that mandatory sentencing doesn’t reduce crime and leads to as many – probably more – absurd and unjust outcomes than the current system, for all its faults? Then what’s the point? At €90k per year for a jail space?

            Also, I admittedly don’t know a huge amount about criminal justice in the Arab world, but from what I do know a man can beat a woman pretty much with impunity in these countries – often it’s a queue for the woman to be stoned to death. Great system altogether.

          2. Oh Danny Boy.......

            Here Niall I presume your thinking of the few backward places where god forbid a women is raped she’s treated as a criminal? The stories make the news because there worse than our system. I’m talking about Saudi, Iran, Iraq where rapists, murders drug dealers are routinely hung.

            If we took the same line that would save alot of 90k’s.

  7. Fat Frog

    Your “Judge of the Day” slot is performing a really important social function by reflecting back to us institutionalised misogyny and tolerance of violence against women.

    1. Niall

      Sorry, but the institutionalised misogyny line is utter horsesh!t. It’s a financial thing, pure and simple.

      Remember nasty woman hating Judge Nolan of the two sexual assaults fame? Well, he hates women so much he also gave suspended sentences to a woman who made a false accusation of rape, and to another woman who half ripped off her boyfriend’s scrote sack.

      Many things happening with the criminal justice system at the moment, but misogyny is not at the forefront of them.

      1. Advertising On Police Cars

        ..And check out Judge mary Fahy in Galway, she is a nutter as well… Judge Dredd the only Judge I respect these days!

  8. 30/30

    A now tax-compliant man was jailed for not filing €48,000 in VAT for the years 2005-9 on Friday. For 16 months. This country…

    1. Jess

      Ugh, now that’s what non-custodial sentences should be for. Someone who commits a horrendously violent act like in the article should be considered a potential danger to other people and sequestered in the hopes that it can be determined he won’t reoffend.

      Tax-dodging, however selfish an act, isn’t violent and locking them up isn’t going to accomplish much besides cost the country even more money.

  9. Cionnaith

    how long before a disgruntled citizen decides it’s time for one of these judges to have a taste of what they are passing judgement on? it’s not such a fantastical thing, a father who’s daughter’s attacker pays his way out of trouble, that would be enough to drive many people over the edge

    1. Domquixote

      You’d see a change in sentencing if Judges were subjected to beatings lasting an hour and a half…

  10. Jockstrap

    Is it my imagination or is there an increase in violence against women in Ireland?

    There is a disturbing number of murders over the last few years of women by their partners.

    1. Jess

      I’m half thinking this, half wondering if it’s just becoming more visible.

      Or it’s being reported on more often than violence against men.

      Either way, it seems to be a really unsettling trend.

      1. Niall

        From experience of working in the criminal justice system over the past decade, violence against women doesn’t seem to be any more prevalent in recent years

        I think it’s just a thing that as non custodial sentences are becoming much more prevalent, there’s a tendency to pick out cases of violence against women as examples of “judges gone mad”.

        For one thing, there are umpteen examples of serious violence by women against men attracting non-custodial sentences which barely warrant a mention:



        And general assaults:



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