A convicted murderer who dragged his wife by her hair, hit her head off a table, punched her, kicked her and tried to pull her eyelashes off, before finally attempting to suffocate her has once again avoided further time in custody – even though the Court of Appeal on Tuesday ruled that his original suspended sentence had been unduly lenient.
Marius Rucinskas (45), formerly of Lithuania but now residing in Cork city, had received an 18-month suspended sentence for the three-hour attack which took place on January 1st, 2020, at a house he shared with Renata Rucinskeine on Main Street, Castletownbere, Co Cork.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later appealed the sentence handed down by Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin on the grounds that it was unduly lenient.
In papers submitted to the Court of Appeal, the DPP stated that Rucinskas pleaded guilty to a Section 3 assault causing harm against Ms Rucinskeine and a count of criminal damage when he appeared before Judge Ó Donnabháin at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in September 2021.
Brendan Kelly BL, for the DPP, on Tuesday told the three-judge court that Rucinskas had waited until the day of his trial before entering his guilty pleas.
Mr Kelly said the respondent had carried out a “sustained assault in a domestic setting which involved punching, kicking, dragging the victim by the hair, hitting her head off a table, and trying to pull her eyelashes off” as well as threats to kill against Ms Rucinskeine.
When Ms Rucinskeine tried to raise the alarm and phone gardai, Rucinskas grabbed the mobile out of her hand and smashed it, counsel said.
Mr Kelly also told the court that Rucinskas had previously served 15 years for murder in his native Lithuania and moved to Ireland in 2015 on his release.
“Looking at the entirety of the sentence imposed, it was unduly lenient,” he said.
Delivering judgment, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy – sitting with Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy – said the Court of Appeal agreed with the DPP and was quashing the original sentence.
Ms Justice Kennedy said the offending had been at the “upper end of the scale”.
“It must have been terrifying for the victim in question,” she said.
But although the judge increased Rucinskas’ sentence from 18 months to three-and-a-half years, she suspended the final two years in a judgment which allowed the respondent to leave the court after entering a good behaviour bond, as a result of time previously served in custody.
During submissions, Mr Justice Birmingham noted that Judge Ó Donnabháin had imposed sentence on someone “who had spent 13 months in custody” which he said was the equivalent of an “18-month sentence at that time”.
Mr Justice McCarthy, however, said that Rucinskas’ murder conviction meant “you couldn’t have a worse record for violence”.
Dermot Sheehan BL, for the respondent, told the court his client was now living in Cork city where he worked in a meat processing plant.
Counsel said his client had previously worked as a fisherman and in a fish-processing plant, but had left these jobs as result of the adverse publicity surrounding this case.
Mr Sheehan added in his submission that Judge Ó Donnabháin had not erred with his sentence.
“It was clearly a lenient sentence. I am not saying it wasn’t. But there was not an error in principle,” Mr Sheehan said.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Women’s Aid (24-hour freephone helpline at 1800 341 900, email firstname.lastname@example.org) or Men’s Aid Ireland (confidential helpline at 01 554 3811, email email@example.com) for support and information.
Safe Ireland also outlines a number of local services and helplines at safeireland.ie/get-help/where-to-find-help/. In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.