Pensioner who stabbed man in unprovoked attack outside Cork city pub has prison sentence reduced

Reducing the sentence from ten years to eight years today, the three-judge court said it must not "throw away the key" on the 76-year-old.
Pensioner who stabbed man in unprovoked attack outside Cork city pub has prison sentence reduced

Patrick O'Sullivan, of Kilnap Place, Farranree, Cork, had pleaded guilty to assaulting Cormac Daly (57) causing him serious harm at Dublin Street, Cork on July 20, 2020. Picture: iStock

A pensioner who stabbed a 57-year-old man outside a Cork city pub in a "vicious" and "unprovoked assault" has had his sentence reduced by two years by the Court of Appeal.

Reducing the sentence from ten years to eight years today, the three-judge court said it must not "throw away the key" on the 76-year-old.

Patrick O'Sullivan, of Kilnap Place, Farranree, Cork, had pleaded guilty to assaulting Cormac Daly (57) causing him serious harm at Dublin Street, Cork on July 20, 2020.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a ten-year prison sentence at Cork Circuit Court in September 2021. Handing down the sentence, Judge Ó Donnabháin described the attack as a "vicious stabbing", in what was an "unprovoked assault".

O'Sullivan had appealed the sentence on the grounds that the sentencing judge had failed to take his age at the time of conviction and the mitigating factors into account when considering a reduction from the headline sentence of 12 years.

Stabbing

Mr Daly was stabbed in the stomach by the appellant in an unprovoked attack outside The Groves Bar, Dublin Street, Cork. O'Sullivan had earlier left the bar and taken a taxi to his home to Farranree where he retrieved a kitchen knife before returning to the premises. The appellant mistakenly believed the injured party had been associated with another man who was alleged to have made threats to O'Sullivan's brother.

Mr Daly lost a kidney and part of his colon as a result of the attack and was diagnosed with cancer which was discovered when surgeons carried out emergency surgery to treat his injuries.

He passed away five months later as a result of the cancer.

'Tragic case'

At the Court of Appeal today, Alice Fawsitt SC, for O'Sullivan, said this was "one of those tragic cases where no good was going to come out of it for either side".

She said the percentage reduction in the headline sentence of 16% was very low for the plea of guilty itself and said the sentencing judge had failed to take the age of the appellant into account.

The age was important for the quality of life at the end of the sentence, she said, adding O'Sullivan would be in his mid-80s when released. It was submitted that the sentence imposed would, in all likelihood, consume most, if not all, of the years remaining to him.

O'Sullivan had remained at the scene, had made admissions when interviewed, had pleaded guilty to the single charge against him and the whole matter had been finalised in under a year, counsel told the court.

She said the demise of the injured party was not caused by the appellant.

In response, Donal O'Sullivan BL, for the State, said that while the reduction in the headline sentence was low it was within the permitted range of between 15-30%. He said the evidence in the case was overwhelming and in these circumstances the level of discount given would be minimal.

"The age is a significant factor but again one must judge that based on all the facts of the case," he added.

Judgement

In a judgement delivered on Tuesday by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, sitting with Mr Justice John Edwards and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, the three-judge court said the sentencing judge "fell into an error of principle" and did not give appropriate weight to the age of the appellant when addressing mitigation.

Mr Justice McCarthy said the court must have regard to the fact that it cannot, to coin a colloquial term, "throw away the key".

Outlining the decision by the three-judge court to reduce the sentence from ten years to eight, Mr Justice McCarthy said that while there was no doubt the headline sentence of 12 years was appropriate, an error arose in not giving sufficient weight to the age of the appellant.

He said the appropriate recourse, given the guilty plea and O'Sullivan's age, was a reduction of four years from the headline sentence to arrive at a sentence of eight years.

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