A Turning Point?


(Jim Doyle and Fiona Doyle (above) and Fiona’s father Patrick O Brien, who begins a three-year prison term this afternoon. The sentencing judge, Paul Carney has admitted he was wrong and insensitive to let O Brien walk free from Dublin’s Central Criminal Court on Monday).

YOU decide.

“GK’ writes

1. What was overturned today was not the sentence of 12 years (with 9 suspended)  imposed by Judge Carney on Patrick O’Brien, but the related decision to grant Mr O’Brien bail pending his appeal against this sentence.

2. The rules in relation to the granting of bail pending appeal were laid down by the Supreme Court in DPP V Corbally, and contemplate the granting of bail by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

3. It appears that in deciding to grant bail Judge Carney may have been influenced by the belief that the sentence imposed by him was likely to be overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal as too harsh, given Mr O’Brien’s state of health and previous Court of Criminal Appeal decisions. He said that he wanted to get the Court of Criminal Appeal’s view on the correctness of this sentence immediately and as soon as possible.

4. Today’s decision by Judge Carney to revoke the bail granted by him is also unusual. Revoking bail normally only occurs if an accused breaches the conditions of their bail. In this case the argument put forward by the DPP in seeking to have bail revoked, which appears to have been accepted by Judge Carney, seems to have been that only the Court of Criminal Appeal had jurisdiction to grant leave to appeal and consequent bail.

5. Whether in the context of bail or otherwise, it is extremely rare for a judge to reverse their own ruling; normally this is a matter for an appeal court.

6. It remains to be seen what view the Court of Criminal Appeal will take on the question of bail pending appeal, and the undue harshness (or, in the event the DPP appeals, undue leniency) of the sentence imposed by Judge Carney, which would involve Mr O’Brien serving three years in jail.

Earlier: “Procedurally Confused”

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

38 thoughts on “A Turning Point?

  1. Clampers Outside!

    So, public outrage can work sometimes. Good.

    Maybe we’ll see an end to “bail pending appeal” in at least the more obvious cases where guilty is proven and penalty is the question.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Good result indeed.

      I believe rapists, and particularly incest rapists, in the Joy are treated with particular disdain and revulsion.

        1. Blah

          Fairly sure, if they’re well behaved, that they’re kept together in Arbour Hill.

          As it should be. Prison rape is not some cool and edgy version of justice.

    2. DaithiF

      Yep. That said, I think that public outrage in the past few years or so, have been taken over by people who are driven by knee-jerk, populist reactions who are barely, if even at all, informed of the idiosyncracies of cases, political decisions, economic circumstances etc. Have a look at any comment section on the journal and you’ll see where, for the most part, the poorly-informed masses go to vent spleen. It just turns into white noise and clouds the space for debate with illiterate ranting.

      But yeah, this is positive.

        1. Captain Obvious

          “Maybe we’ll see an end to “bail pending appeal” in at least the more obvious cases where guilty is proven and penalty is the question” … If the guilt is not proven there would be nothing to appeal.

  2. col

    At least the monster is behind bars and its a few more quid for the poor old legal system in Ireland!

    1. cluster

      Based on a couple of cases where you disagree with a sentence despite only knowing outline details?

      Our system is far from perfect, as no legal system is, however it has ranked fairly highly in many international comparisons.

      There is no reason we should stop trying to improve how it operates but this sort of blanket dismissal is lazy and unhelpful.

  3. Just sayin'

    This is obviously another battle in the war betwen Justice Carney and the Court of Criminal Appeal. He is fed up with them overturning convictions in his Court or cutting sentences he has imposed. He’s expressed this frustration many times in public. I think he was trying to put the Court of Appeal on the spot but its backfired badly.

    1. DaithiF

      Seems to be the case.

      Most people who reacted to the sentencing chose not to read parts of the reporting that articulated that.

    2. Clampers Outside!

      If you are correct, using this woman as a personal kick about tantrum with the Court of Criminal Appeal is disgusting on all levels and if so the man is not fit to hold his seat.

      1. DAN

        And if not… Probably still not fit to hold his seat. If this was what he actually thought the sentence should be, is that better or worse?

    3. Crimson King

      Somehow this is worse IMO. Rather than do his job and give Mrs Doyle the respect she deserves for her bravery, he also made a childish point in telling the world why he did it. ‘Ah sure what’s the point’ is not a valid argument in cases so high profile for the horrific details.

  4. Sido

    1) The sentence though unduly lenient may well be a life sentence given the health of the defendant.
    2) Given that the defendant has to be treated by 12 different specialists. Maybe Carney was concerned about the cost, to the State, of securely shipping the prisoner around between prison and hospital on a regular basis.

    The health of the defendant, and the lack of medical knowledge by the Judge make the judgment very difficult.

    1. Critical Thinking

      I think I find myself agreeing with you Sido.


      I imagine O’Brien is already in a comfy hospital bed getting his entitlement to human rights mandated due care and attention.
      I suspect the hospital care and the new standard of living he will receive is probably better than that which he would have received as an independent citizen of Ireland.

      Considering what I believe to be the case with O’Brien’s new living arrangements I think Mr Carney is being subjected to far too much hysterical hysterics and political interference over his apparently expert decision making.

      The political interference, grandstanding and points scoring over this issue has been most disturbing and has come to a head in Justice Carney reversing a decision he made and apologising for that decision. That is an worrying development and one suspects will be open to legal challenge.

      1. Sido

        He’s certainly very easy to hate, isn’t he?

        The saddest truth is that he has been convicted twelve years to late.

        You can’t blame Judge Carney for that.

  5. Continuity Jay-Z

    Far too many within the legal profession have not a clue how to do their job. The cult of daddy’s boys and girls in the industry has seen its intellectual standing of law atrophy to a shocking degree.

    About 60% of what is practicing today are unfit to be doing so. There are 100’s of far superior practicioners working abroad or in corporate jobs becase their daddy was not a big shot barrister.

    Incest kills a species.

  6. ivan

    Few thoughts.

    a) Carney ballsed this up rightly, in terms of the length of sentence and granting bail immediately
    b) he’s done something to redress the balance; I think he deserves some credit for that.
    c) he may well have a problem with the Court of Criminal Appeal
    d) there’s other ways, better ways, to make public such problems. I’m not sure what they are, mind; if he decided to be lenient in another case (just for the reason he may have done in this instance) there’d still be an outcry
    e) I understand and appreciate why there was an outcry
    f) I’m not entirely in favour (in general terms – not this specific case) of a move to a position where judges feel they have to answer to (for want of a better phrase) The Mob.

  7. Susan

    I agree with you on (f) Ivan, that’s an important point.

    There seems to be a flaw in the administration of justice if a judge has to have a constant crick in his neck looking behind him to consider how a sentence will be appealed.

    1. Continuity Jay-Z

      Perhaps if they got it right the first time the mob’s role would be diminished. These are not decisions being taken on a razor’s edge of legal minuté, they are epic balls- ups that even the common indigent on the bstreet can see are so far off the wall they are practically on the other side of the planet.

      The sex assault in Drumcondra
      The Garlic mockery.
      The amount of people that get fined in stead of custodial sentences is absurd.
      The amount of suspended sentences; ridiculous.

  8. Clanbrassil_Street_Screamer

    Very distressing case. Hope they can move on and justice is done. Shameful all round from the benches.

  9. Mick

    What needs to be looked at as well as these case is the defense when sentence is considered is the usual “of previous good character” and “comes from a good back ground” if they where factors then a crime would not have been committed in the 1st place no would it.

    All equal in the eyes of the law my backside.

    As for this case, the media footage of this ladies mother accompanying her father to court was sickening, love and justice both blind it seems.

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