Monday 22 January 2018

Justice Paul Carney hangs up his wig after 24 years on bench


Judge Paul Carney is retiring
Judge Paul Carney is retiring

JUSTICE Paul Carney, the state's most senior crime judge, will retire from the bench today.

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.

Ellen O'Malley Dunlop CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre paid tribute to the retiring judge.

"Irish society and victims of the most serious crimes on our statute books, owes Justice Paul Carney a huge debt of gratitude.

He was a "fair judge" she said and added that in the "very rare" instances when he made a bad decision "he was a big enough man to come back and make right what he got wrong," she said. Some of Justice Carney's decisions have been controversial and he came in for criticism on occasion during his extensive career.

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 apologised to the victim for his "confusing" decision.


O'Brien later had his sentence for abusing his daughter tripled to the nine years by the Court of Appeal.

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

He has been an adjunct professor at UCC and NUI Maynooth since the mid-2000s, and he is also credited with bringing about shorter wait times before serious criminal cases are heard in court.

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