A criminal with a "serious propensity for violence" has been jailed for 12 years for killing a vulnerable homeless man by pushing him down a rubbish chute.
David O'Loughlin was twice convicted of murdering Liam Manley, but the Court of Appeal overturned the first verdict and replaced the second verdict with one of manslaughter after finding there was no evidence he intended to kill or cause serious harm to the victim.
Mr Justice Michael White at the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday backdated O'Loughlin's sentence to May 23rd, 2013 when he first went into custody, meaning the 34-year-old can expect to be released in early 2022.
The judge said O'Loughlin, of Garden City Apartments, North Main St, Cork was "extremely callous" and had assaulted Mr Manley, a "vulnerable man" who showed him no aggression.
Lack of compassion
The judge also noted O'Loughlin's lack of compassion in not trying to ascertain Mr Manley's condition when he should have realised the danger he was in, having been pushed down the chute. Mr Justice White also noted that O'Loughlin has twice previously been convicted of assault causing serious harm and once of assault causing harm.
He added: "He has a serious propensity for violence, not just a bad temper."
Mr Justice White said Mr Manley had died in "harrowing circumstances". He had been socialising with O'Loughlin at the accused's apartment when O'Loughlin "suddenly assaulted him by punching him in the face." Mr Manley had offered no aggression, the judge said, but O'Loughlin ejected him from his apartment, dragged him and forced him into the chute, causing fractures to his ribs. Mr Manley got caught where the chute turned at an angle and died from asphyxiation.
The judge said mitigating factors included that O'Loughlin had entered a guilty plea to manslaughter prior to his first trial in 2016. He has also achieved a diploma in higher education while in prison, completed courses on conflict resolution and has been highly placed in creative writing competitions.
He said O'Loughlin is a person of "considerable intelligence" with a "mastery of the English language". He will need to be supervised after release, the judge said, because he remains at high risk of committing crimes of violence. From psychological reports given to the court, the judge said O'Loughlin had a "tragic background including witnessing domestic violence." He had suffered "extreme cruelty at the hands of his parents", the judge said.
The judge set a headline sentence of 18 years but having considered mitigating factors reduced that to 14 years and further suspended the final two years on condition that he be of good behaviour, remain under the supervision of the probation service for two years and attend all courses or therapeutic services directed by the probation service during that time.
At a retrial in the Central Criminal Court in January 2019 O'Loughlin was convicted of murdering Mr Manley at O'Loughlin's apartment in Cork on May 12th, 2013.
His first conviction had been overturned by the Court of Appeal after they heard that the jury had visited the scene of the murder and had possibly carried out their own experiment by throwing a stone down the chute. In March this year the Court of Appeal quashed the second conviction and substituted the murder verdict with a manslaughter verdict, having found there was no evidence that O'Loughlin intended to kill or cause serious harm to Mr Manley.
O'Loughlin had 54 previous convictions when he killed Mr Manley. At a previous hearing Detective Garda Padraig Harrington told prosecution counsel Patrick McGrath SC that O'Loughlin was first convicted of assault in 2004 when, aged 18, he stabbed another youth three times.
In June 2005 O'Loughlin was walking down a narrow footpath when he bumped into someone walking the other way. There was a "verbal argument," the garda said, "and Mr O'Loughlin stabbed him just under the heart."
In December 2005 O'Loughlin assaulted two foreign nationals in what the garda described as a "frenzied attack". He stabbed one of the men 10 times and the other about six times. "Both men were very very lucky to survive," the garda said.