herald

Sunday 25 September 2016

Justice Carney hangs up his wig after 24 years on bench

LAW

JUSTICE Paul Carney, the state's most senior crime judge, said it was personally a "black day" as he retired from the bench.

Courtroom 4 was heaving as colleagues and contemporaries thanked him for his contribution to the state and recalled anecdotes displaying his "self deprecating wit".

"The people of Ireland are indebted to you," attorney general Maire Whelan said.

Bar council chair David Barniville commended the judge as "simply the best".

"I don't recognise the person you have been talking about," Carney said.

"It is a very black day for me. I have worked a quarter of a century as a judge.

"I have never pulled a sickie or had days off and always in the occupation I have been involved with I have resented the length of vacation associated with those jobs," he said.

The 71-year-old has heard an estimated 150 murder and rape cases in his distinguished career since he was appointed to the Central Criminal Court in 1991 - more than any other judge in Irish history.

He has ruled on some of the most high-profile trials in the country during his career.

One included the case of Wayne Donoghue who was convicted of the manslaughter of 11-year-old Cork schoolboy Robert Holohan in 2006.

In 2013,he was also part of the three judge panel who presided over the case of MS sufferer Marie Fleming who was seeking the right to die.

Though her request was denied, the judges issued a statement to say that the UCD professor had "humbled and inspired" them.

Carney's decisions have been controversial and he came in for criticism on occasion during his extensive career.

DECISION

Two years ago his decision to sentence Patrick O'Brien (72) to 12 years with nine suspended for repeatedly raping his daughter Fiona Doyle when she was a child in the 1970s and 1980s was met with shock.

He also granted continuing bail to the rapist pending a sentencing appeal but revoked it a week later and he apologised to the victim for his "confusing" decision.

O'Brien later had his sentence tripled to the nine years on appeal.

Justice Carney was called to the bar in 1966 and practised predominantly in the area of criminal law.

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