His Hands Were Tied


Legal reaction to sentencing by Mr Justice Paul Carney which saw a 72-year-old sex offender walk free from court on Monday has been mixed. Patrick O’Brien from Bray, Co Wicklow, was sentenced to 12 years with nine suspended for raping and sexually assaulting his daughter, Fiona Doyle, over a nine-year period, but was released on continuing bail pending an appeal.

In passing sentence, Mr Justice Carney noted that in another judgment, the Kennedy case in 2008, the Court of Criminal Appeal suspended a moderate sentence imposed on the basis of the health of the accused.

He said that in that judgment he was “horrified” to find the Director of Public Prosecutions, “behind my back, saying it’s a matter of indifference” whether the accused served a prison sentence or not.

He said he believed he was taking a moderate position by imposing a sentence of 12 years for the rape charges, along with concurrent sentences of three years for the indecent assault.

Barrister Paul Anthony McDermott said Mr Justice Carney may have felt the Kennedy case “somehow tied his hands”.

He said the sentence showed the judge felt the law was “uncertain” when “dealing with elderly, very sick defendants who nonetheless have committed very serious crimes”.

An ass.

That’s what the law is.

Previously: Judge Of The Day

Trial judge ‘may have felt hands tied’ (Joanne Hunt, Irish Times)