Killer in bridge beating horror has his prison sentence cut on appeal
The man who was said to have "set the agenda" for the fatal beating of Dale Creighton on a footbridge in Tallaght five years ago has had his jail term cut on appeal.
David Burke (29), formerly of Beechpark, Collinstown, Co Westmeath, initially stood trial for the murder of Mr Creighton (20), along with six others, but on the 15th day of their trial those charges were dropped and each accused pleaded guilty to lesser offences.
Mr Creighton was assaulted on the footbridge over the Tallaght bypass between St Dominic's Road and Greenhills Road in the early hours of January 1, 2014.
He was falsely accused of stealing a mobile phone and marched up to a "kangaroo court" on the bridge, where the beating continued after it was ascertained that he did not have the stolen phone.
He died in hospital the following day from blunt-force injuries to his head and face.
Burke and four others pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were each sentenced to 10 years with suspended periods, depending on their culpability and circumstances.
Sentencing Burke to 10 years with the final two-and-a-half suspended, Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy held him to be the "most culpable of the participants. He was the oldest, he set the agenda. He determined what was to happen".
However, the Court of App-eal cut Burke's jail term by nine months yesterday on the grounds that his sentence diverged from the next most culpable killer by too much.
Court of Appeal president Mr Justice George Birmingham said that in a case involving multiple defendants, where issues of relativity and parity apply, intervention was "required".
He said the court had some concern that conclusions about Burke setting the agenda "may go somewhat further than is supported by the evidence".
There was no doubt, however, that the greatest culpability rested with him and another of those involved, Ross Callery, Mr Justice Birmingham said.
The Court of Appeal was also satisfied that the sentencing judge was correct to draw a distinction between Burke and Callery because of Burke's involvement in the early stages of the incident, "as what might be described as an instigator", and the fact Callery was five years younger.
Callery (25), of Gortlum Cottages, Brittas, Co Dublin, was jailed for six years. Burke was given an extra 18 months, or 25pc more, which was too great a divergence, the judge said.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, re-sentenced Burke to 10 years with the final three years and three months suspended, leaving him with a net jail term of six years and nine months.
The Central Criminal Court heard that the seven defendants, who were from Tallaght and known to each other, had rung in the new year four hours earlier in a local nightclub, where the entrance fee included multiple free drinks. Some also took cocaine.
They were Burke and his sister, 25-year-old Aisling Burke, of Beechpark, Collinstown, Co Westmeath; Callery; Graham Palmer (28), of Park Avenue, Portarlington, Co Laois; James Reid (26), of Glen Aoibhinn, Gorey, Co Wexford; Jason Beresford (25), of Coill Diarmada, Ard a' Laoi, Castledermot, Co Kildare; and Gerard Stevens (29), of Grosvenor Square, Rathmines in Dublin.
Aisling Burke, who pleaded guilty to violent disorder, was jailed for one year, while Reid, who admitted possession of a knife, was given a two-year sentence that was wholly suspended.
The other five defendants who all admitted manslaughter were given 10-year sentences, with Callery having the final four years suspended, Palmer five years suspended, Beresford four years suspended and Stevens seven years suspended.