Friday, April 04, 2008


'Justice' Carney strikes again

"The more things change, the more they stay the same" so the proverb goes.

In light of this week's news it seems a very true statement indeed, for the presiding judge of the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul Carney, has regrettably been up to his usual tricks - handing out joke sentences that make a mockery of the Irish judicial system and which heap further pain and misery upon victim's families.

Some of you might recall this piece I wrote on Carney a year ago where I highlighted his record as a judge, and boy oh boy it certainly is quite the CV. I personally wouldn't want this man judging a bikini contest let alone some of the most significant criminal cases in the land, yet it seems the people of this country are stuck with him.

I highlighted in that piece an article from the Sunday Business Post by Kieron Wood, himself a barrister, who recalled a conversation he had with a court reporter who had covered Carney's career for some time. The court reporter remarked:

"He always has one eye on the media, and, if he spots a reporter whom he doesn't recognise, he will often get his tipstaff to ask them who they are.

"He has a reputation for being grumpy, but I think it's more that he finds it difficult to relate to people socially. Basically, he is a shy person - though he loves publicity and always seems to be trying to stir things up. He enjoys being controversial and likes to provoke the Oireachtas into thinking about the law."

With Justice Carney's reputation then it came as little surprise to me today to learn that 21-year-old Limerick student Joseph (Jody) Buston had been sentenced to just SIX YEARS in prison for the 'manslaughter' of 59-year-old Liam O'Donovan in 2006. The jury heard that Mr O'Donovan had had been stabbed through the heart after Mr Buston had entered his house and confronted him.

Some sentence, huh? Six years for breaking into a man's home and stabbing him to death. What a country.

A disgrace

Mr O'Donovan's brother Vincent, speaking in a victim's impact statement outside the court, said he was devastated by the verdict:

"This intruder cruelly took our brother from us by stabbing him in the heart. Our lives are destroyed. Our lives are shattered. This sentence today is like another death, like another funeral for us. I don't know what the law is but the guards - they did their job. They brought it to the court..."

Commenting afterwards Justice Carney commented that the case was a great tragedy for both families. He said it was happening more frequently that young men of impeccable backgrounds and no previous convictions were losing control of their minds through drink and sometimes drugs.

Well then Mr Carney how about imposing a sentence that might actually prove a deterrent? Is that too much to ask?

My heart goes out to the family of Mr O'Donovan and it made my blood boil to see yet ANOTHER paltry sentence be dished out by Mr Carney for a crime which resulted in a man's life being taken.

The 'great tragedy' here Mr Carney is that you are allowed to remain in your position and permitted to continue handing out sentences that make a mockery of the courts. The people, and particularly the family of the victim, deserve to see justice being done. Is this to be deemed justice? Is this to be deemed acceptable?

Crime continues to be a cause for concern in Ireland and if the perpetrators of such disturbing crimes are given a slap on the wrist by figures like Paul Carney, then we will never get a hold on it.

The fact that we have here the victim's family saying that the sentence imposed is "like another death, like another funeral" is a sorry indictment of the justice system that we have in this country.

A fundamental tenet of a State like ours is its ability to protect its citizens. Clearly at present we are failing in that basic role. It is time we stood up for the victims of crime, it is time we acknowledged that Paul Carney is unfit for his position, and it is time we recognised that our justice system is deeply flawed.


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