Thursday, March 15, 2007

'Justice' Carney must be removed

I should preface this post by saying that when I decided to do some independent research on the background and career of Mr Justice Carney, (pictured left) I had no idea I would end up finding such downright disturbing information.

What follows is simply information I obtained by checking out various sites through Google searches. Information that any citizen can find. The picture that it paints however is a very unsettling one indeed. If you've read my previous post on the Carney sentence handed out this past Monday, then read on and notice if you see any similarities with these previous cases. The links are provided.

'Man given four years for stabbing after killing their baby' - July, 2001

A man, Derek Hickey, stabbed and killed his 14 week old baby and also stabbed his partner, Sinéad Smullen, after a row at the flat they shared in Sinéad's native Newbridge, Co Kildare. Hickey stabbed the child six times.

"We didn't want her to know it was a frenzied attack. It was like Hannibal Lector what he did to that child," said Seanie Smullen, the child's grandmother.

Hickey received four years for the attack on Sinead.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said the crime warranted at least 10 years but by law he could only impose five. And, even then, he had to take time off to recognise Hickey's guilty plea.

She left the court in tears, crying both with anger and grief. "It's not enough," she said of the four year sentence for the scars she bears after Hickey plunged a kitchen knife into her back and neck. "It's not enough altogether," she added, with the knowledge that the life sentence for Leilah is unlikely to extend beyond 14 years.

'Suspended sentence for killing 18-month-old baby' - May 2002

A former soldier was given a five years suspended prison sentence by a judge at the Central Criminal Court today after a jury found him guilty of the manslaughter of the 18 months old son of his first cousin.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said a relatively small quantity of poitin had "aunique, inexplicable and extraordinary effect" on John Reilly and "he had no control over his body or his actions" and was functioning like an epileptic or diabetic in a bad state of a hypo or hyper.

He said he was satisfied that a prison sentence would serve no purpose and he sentenced Reilly to five years imprisonment suspended on Reilly’s own bond of €1,000, on condition that he keep the peace for five years and that he does not carry a Leatherman (a multi-tool knife used in the killing) or any other similar device.

"The accused is going to have to live with these events for the rest of his life. I believe that he met the case with dignity," he added.

'Call for DPP to examine male rape sentence' - March 2005

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has called on the Director of Public Prosecutions to examine a decision by the Central Criminal Court to allow a youth convicted of raping another man to walk free.

17-year-old Gary Davis of Kenilworth Lane, Rathmines, admitted sexually assaulting a 50-year-old man at Dominick Street Flats in November 2001. He was 15 years old at the time.

This afternoon, Mr Justice Paul Carney handed down a three year suspended sentence for the offence.

Mr Justice Carney said he took into consideration Davis' young age, his expression of remorse and his guilty plea.

The chairwoman of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Breda Allen, said the sentence may discourage other victims from reporting rape.

'Suspended sentence in manslaughter case' - March 2005

A 35-year-old Dublin man has been given a suspended sentence for the manslaughter of a former All-Ireland boxing champion turned drug dealer and addict.

Anthony Burke from Clancarty Road, Donnycarney, was convicted by a jury last month at the Central Criminal Court of the unlawful killing of Joseph Sutcliffe, aged 32, from Fatima Mansions in Rialto.

Mr Sutcliffe died when a single stab wound to the abdomen cut an artery in October 2002.

Burke, who is the registered carer for his father at the family home, had never been to Fatima Mansions before that night. He got involved in a brawl and believed he had only nicked Mr Sutcliffe.

In handing down the suspended sentence, Mr Justice Carney said he did not feel any purpose would be served by jailing Burke.

'Nally refused leave to appeal conviction' - December 5, 2005

The Co Mayo farmer, Padraig Nally, has been refused leave to appeal against his conviction and six-year jail sentence for the manslaughter of Traveller John 'Frog' Ward.

At the Central Criminal Court today Nally's defence had argued that Mr Justice Paul Carney had usurped the constitutional function of the jury by refusing to allow it to consider a not guilty verdict.

Mr Justice Carney had ruled that such a verdict on the evidence would be perverse.

Refusing leave to appeal today, Mr Justice Carney said he did not believe he could look John Ward's widow and her 11 children in the face and say that he was required to certify leave to appeal because he did not provide the jury in the case with the mechanism to bring in a perverse verdict.

'Six year sentence for Cork rapist of American woman' - December 19th, 2005

A Cork man who orally raped an American student and then claimed he was a commanding officer in the IRA has been given a six-year sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney at the Central Criminal Court.

He told her to wait where she was for 15 minutes but she ran after a few minutes to a nearby house where a woman would not let her in but called the gardaí.

Healy became violent when apprehended and asked about a scratch on his face. He struck the garda, who was forced to take out his baton and hit him with it, but then overcame the garda and grabbed his radio before he ran off in the direction of a cul de sac. He was caught again when the garda enlisted the help of two civilians.

He pleaded guilty to oral rape and aggravated sexual assault of the woman on November 7, 2004, and stealing a Garda radio valued €2,000.

The victim told Mr Justice Carney her life has never been the same since. Simple things such as going to the grocery store, church or a mailbox had become "terrifying tasks" she was unable to complete without the assistance of a friend.

Healy had threatened to murder her and she decided that "rather than leave her body to be violated by a pervert" she would surrender. "He took my chastity," she added.

Mr Justice Carney placed Healy on the sex offenders register and said his crime was "quite frightful". He imposed six-year sentences on the oral rape and aggravated sexual assault charges and three years on the robbery, suspending the last 18 months of the sentences.

'O'Donoghue sentenced to four years in jail' - January, 2006

Wayne O'Donoghue has been sentenced to four years in prison for the manslaughter of Robert Holohan.

O'Donoghue admitted killing his next-door neighbour. He said that it was an accident after a row erupted when Robert threw stones at his car.

Earlier today Robert Holohan's mother, Majella, addressed the court. She claimed that semen was found on Robert's body when it was discovered dumped in a ditch at Inch strand in east Cork.

She asked why would he have been killed for throwing stones; why were images deleted from his mobile phone; and what was Robert doing in Wayne O'Donoghue's bedroom at 7.20am on one occasion when he was supposed to have been on a sleepover with a friend.

Prior to imposing sentence, Mr Justice Paul Carney warned Majella Holohan to prepare herself.

He told her that the sentence he was going to impose would be upsetting; he said that he would endeavour to explain what he was doing but there was no getting away from the fact that it would upset the mother.

He said he was dealing with manslaughter and not a cover-up.

He described the cover up that followed the killing as appalling and added that there could be no excusing what was done and no mitigating it.

He said he was not punishing O'Donoghue expressly in respect of the cover up, although it came into play as part of the impact on the victims and it was in that regard he took it into account.

'Cover up may not affect O’Donoghue’s sentence' - July 2006

O’Donoghue moved the boy’s bicycle some distance from his home and then wrapped his body in plastic and dumped it in a ditch at Inch Strand where it was not found for eight days. He also lied about the circumstances in which he last saw the schoolboy and deliberately tried to put gardaí off the scent by taking part in search parties and challenging officers when they failed to find the boy in the days immediately following his disappearance.

Such behaviour could be classed as obstructing a garda investigation and in court this week counsel for the State, Shane Murphy SC, said the trial judge, Mr Justice Paul Carney, had erred in not taking it into consideration when deciding the length of sentence.

Mr Justice Carney specifically referred to the issue on sentencing day last January when he said: “I am dealing with a manslaughter and not a cover-up.” He said the State could have prosecuted O’Donoghue in relation to the cover-up but did not.

“It could have formed the basis of substantive charges and they were not laid,” he said. His comments prompted Justice Minister Michael McDowell to publicly defend the DPP. “Sometimes there are aspects of cases which the public does not understand and sometimes it is not easy for the DPP to explain them, because there are all sorts of complex technical reasons and legal reasons,” he said at the time.

In the Court of Criminal Appeal this week, Shane Murphy insisted Mr Justice Carney was wrong not to view the cover-up as an aggravating factor. “We submit that was an incorrect approach,” he said.

However, Mr Justice Diarmuid O’Donovan, one of the three judges hearing the appeal, challenged Mr Murphy to explain why the State was making an issue of the cover-up when it was not part of the original case against O’Donoghue. “It was up to the DPP to press other charges and he did not,” he said.

Mr Murphy said Mr Justice Carney had not specified what other charges he was referring to, but Ms Justice Fidelma Macken, who chaired the three-judge panel, interrupted him. “But the DPP could have pressed other charges,” she said.

Mr Justice O’Donovan said O’Donoghue could have been charged under the 1976 Criminal Law Act which makes it a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in jail, to provide false information and waste garda time. There was also legislation which made it an offence to destroy a body or prevent a proper burial. Mr Murphy argued that the 1976 Act did not apply as it referred to cases involving two or more individuals, not a single person. He said the other legislation had not been successfully prosecuted for some time.

O’Donoghue was acquitted of murdering Robert, his next door neighbour, but was convicted of manslaughter after admitting that he grabbed the 11-year-old around the neck and held him in a headlock because he was annoying him. Robert died of strangulation.

If the judges dismiss the cover-up as grounds for a longer sentence, they must still consider the three other arguments put forward by the State, which says Mr Justice Carney was wrong not to take into account the fact that O’Donoghue was almost twice the age of his victim and much bigger and stronger.

The medical evidence suggested the attack on Robert was more serious than “at the horseplay end of the scale” as Mr Justice Carney characterised it.

Mr Murphy also said Mr Justice Carney gave O’Donoghue too much credit for confessing his crime before gardaí arrested him. He said by that time gardaí had found O’Donoghue’s fingerprint on a plastic bag wrapped around Robert’s body and were closing in on him.

'Victim condemns rape sentence' - 13th March, 2007

A rape victim who watched her attacker walk free from court with a suspended sentence today said she will never trust the justice system again. The devastated woman, who said she felt on trial, was even forced to travel back to her home town on the same train as convicted rapist Adam Keane.

Mr Justice Paul Carney handed down a three-year suspended sentence at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday. The sentence was based on a previous ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeal, he added.

"I really didn't want it go to court in February in the first place. It was the hardest week of my life, to go up in that stand and give every detail of my life explored by the DPP and his barrister and when he was found guilty I was so relieved and I really believed justice would be done.

"But yesterday it wasn't, there was no justice done for me at all and now I'm back to square one where I was when I first got raped. I feel worse now."

Mary said that after the attack she and her children had to leave their home, where they had lived for nine years, and moved back in with her parents because she was afraid. The family have since moved home twice.

And there you have it, folks. Notice a pattern emerging?

It is quite clear to me that Mr Justice Paul Carney is unfit for the position he currently holds. I should point out the information highlighted above is based on evidence I've found this evening. I'm sure there are lots more cases like this. Incidentally, if anyone knows of any feel free to mention them.

I don't know about you but I am deeply distressed by this man's record. I'm annoyed at myself for not picking up on it sooner. You will know the Nally and O'Donoghue cases were closely followed here on this site. I had no idea that the link, the one common strand, was Justice Carney.

Of the most recent controversies at the heart of the judicial system in this country, who has been at the very centre of them? Justice Carney.

Here's one more link for you all, it's from an article in the Sunday Business Post, written in 2003, on Justice Paul Carney. I urge you to read the entire piece but here's a quote that caught my eye...

"One court reporter who has covered Carney's court for many years said: 'He always has one eye on the media, and, if he spots a reporter whom he doesn't recognise, he will often get his tipstaff to ask them who they are.

"'He has a reputation for being grumpy, but I think it's more that he finds it difficult to relate to people socially. Basically, he is a shy person - though he loves publicity and always seems to be trying to stir things up. He enjoys being controversial and likes to provoke the Oireachtas into thinking about the law.'"

Is Carney less interested in court justice and more interested in courting controversy? Well apparently, unlike most of his colleagues, Carney backs the televising of court cases. He told a seminar at Trinity College law school in 2000:

"There is a very strong case to be made that citizens should be entitled to monitor and observe the fair administration of justice in their home through the contemporary technology of television."

Right, of course there is. Then you can become a TV star and have your own show. "Carney court" perhaps?

Like I said earlier all of this makes me very uneasy. The "Carney code" seems to involve giving as lenient a sentence as is humanly possible and then sitting back to allow the public anger to commence. Maybe he gets off on the outrage he causes. Maybe he likes seeing his name in the headlines.

All I know for sure is that he has been at the centre stage of some stunningly bad sentencing decisions in recent times. At the very least the man is inept beyond belief.

I shall be writing to my local TD to express my concerns at this man's record and I urge other troubled Irish citizens to do likewise. Remember the name Justice Carney from now on. I fear we shall be seeing it quite a bit for all the wrong reasons.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.


  1. Dearbháil10:49 PM

    Thank you for highlighting the sentences that he has passed down. It is heart breaking but hopefully proves the continued injustice people face when in his court room. He needs to be removed immediately.

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