Stepson-killer Mahon loses appeal against seven-year sentence
Killer Dave Mahon has lost an appeal against the severity of a seven-year prison sentence for stabbing his partner's son.
Mahon (46) had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Dean Fitzpatrick (23), the older bro- ther of missing teenager Amy, on May 26, 2013.
Mr Fitzpatrick suffered a stab wound to the abdomen outside the apartment that his mother, Audrey Fitzpatrick, shared with Mahon at Burnell Square, on the Malahide Road, Dublin.
The two-week trial heard that Mahon had been in a relationship with Ms Fitzpatrick for 12 years when he killed her son.
The State had argued that Mahon was drunk, angry and agitated when he thrust a knife into his stepson with deadly intent.
Mahon claimed his death was an accident or possible suicide and Mr Fitzpatrick had "walked into the knife" while they were arguing.
A Central Criminal Court jury found Mahon not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Mr Fitzpatrick's 15-year-old sister, Amy, disappeared on New Year's Day 2008 after babysitting a friend's brother near her home on the Costa del Sol. She has not been seen since.
The Court of Appeal upheld Mahon's sentence yesterday, saying that seven years, taking an overview of the case, was "quite typical of knife manslaughters".
As sentence appeals go, this one was "somewhat unusual", Mr Justice George Birmingham said in his judgment delivered on behalf of the three-judge court.
"Unusually" for sentence appeals, the case made on Mahon's behalf was that the sentencing judge did not sentence in acc- ordance with the jury's verdict, Mr Justice Birmingham said.
Counsel for Mahon, Sean Guerin, said the only conclusion which could be drawn from the verdict was that the jury was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mahon had stabbed Mr Fitzpatrick.
As such, he said Mahon was factually proven only to have produced the knife.
"That was all he did. He produced the knife, he didn't thrust it, he didn't stab, and because he didn't thrust it, he didn't commit an act that could have amounted to a physical assault," Mr Guerin said.
The alternative view to murder was that Mahon intended to put Mr Fizpatrick in fear or was reckless to put him in fear.
The court did not disagree with the principle that a sentencing court was obliged to proceed on the basis most fav- ourable to the accused.
However, in the Court of Appeal's view, it was "going too far" to say the verdict must definitively mean the jury concluded the knife had been produced by Mahon to frighten Mr Fitzpatrick.
There were a number of possible routes by which the jury could have arrived at a manslaughter verdict, Mr Justice Birmingham said.
He said sentences of eight years were imposed by the Court of Criminal Appeal in a number of similar cases.
There were aggravating factors in this case, including the following of Mr Fitzpatrick from the apartment, the production of a large knife, Mahon leaving the scene and his failure to seek medical assistance.