herald

Monday 21 August 2017

Another day, another thug killer sneers at our lenient law

Here's a convicted killer, showing you, me and every other law-abiding citizen what he thinks of us.

Karl Breen walked free from prison last week, having served just seven years behind bars for stabbing a man to death. He was sentenced to nine but, of course, got remission.

Within hours of his release Breen posted this photo, reportedly from a city hotel room.

The mother of the man he knifed to death, his pal Martin McLoughlin, reacted to Breen's release by stating that a killer should served "a life for life".

"But that's not the way this country works," she said. How true.

But the fact is that Karl Breen is just the latest violent offender, in a long line of them, to benefit from remission.

Sentencing

His case is yet another example of the woeful shortcomings of our judicial system when it comes to sentencing for serious crimes such as murder, manslaughter and rape.

Some years ago a former Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, admitted that our justice system was off-kilter and skewed in favour of the criminal rather than the victim.

Few would disagree with that opinion, then or now, least of all victim support groups like Advic. For years they've argued that the victim, and not the perpetrator, should be at the heart of our justice system.

Advic, like myself, have been extremely critical of the absurdly lenient sentences handed down for those convicted of serious crimes and indeed the overall lack of consistency in our core sentencing policies.

It is little wonder then that the latest crime figures released show an alarming 33pc rise of in the murder rate over 12 months.

The truth is that sentences handed down by the court for crimes like murder and manslaughter are no longer a deterrent.

custodial

The Acting Garda Commissioner, Noirin O'Sullivan, recently told an Oireachtas Committee of "a rush to violence" that is making this country a dangerous place.

Surely the courts should reflect society's abhorrence of these heinous crimes against the person, and should punish those convicted with long custodial sentences?

For years I've argued that those convicted of murder or manslaughter at the high end of the scale, or violent rape, should serve a minimum sentence - 25 years in prison without parole.

It would also help re-balance our justice system in favour of victims - and away from sneering killers like Karl Breen.

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