A pub doorman who left his employer to die on a toilet floor after a violent robbery has had his nine-year jail term imposed for manslaughter reduced by one year on appeal.
Marian Lingurar Jnr was 16 when publican John Kenny (56) was badly beaten, tied up and left to die alone on the floor of the ladies’ toilet in his public house, Kenny’s pub in Oughterard, Co Galway, by a gang of men on September 25th, 2011. Lingurar Jnr, who was “physically mature beyond his years”, did not take part in the restraint or assault of Mr Kenny.
During the attack, Mr Kenny had sustained severe injuries to his upper body, consistent with blows from a heavy object and with kicks and punches. His hands had been tied behind his back and a jacket wound tightly around his face and head.
His wife Kathleen and the couple’s daughter Gillian discovered his body the following evening.
Lingurar Jnr had been working as a doorman at the pub for a week before the fatal attack took place, and had planned to rob Mr Kenny of his takings when the defendant returned to the premises after closing time to let his fellow gang members inside.
He was later sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment after he was convicted of manslaughter by a jury at Galway Circuit Criminal Court in January 2019.
Lingurar Jnr, who is now 27, later appealed the severity of the sentence on the grounds that insufficient weight was placed on his age at the time of the offending by the trial judge.
In a judgment delivered on Monday by the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, the sentence imposed by Judge Rory McCabe in May 2019 was quashed.
Noting that the appellant was “physically mature beyond his years” and that this maturity had helped him secure employment as a doorman, Mr Justice Birmingham also acknowledged that Judge McCabe had been “alive to the fact that the appellant was not a party to the violence” inflicted on Mr Keenan.
The judge also said it was clear “that the crime has had a very grave impact on the members of the Kenny family”.
Reducing the appellant’s jail term by one year, Mr Justice Birmingham said that “10 years for a 16-year-old falls outside the range”.
“In those circumstances, we have decided to quash the sentence imposed at the circuit court,” he said.
At a hearing on Thursday, Colman FitzGerald SC, for Lingurar Jnr, said the main ground of appeal related to the “manner in which the trial judge dealt with the age of the appellant” at the time of the offending.
The headline sentence had been “too high” and there was “an error in principle”, he continued, given the age and culpability of the appellant on the night in question.
If the judge had been sentencing an adult for a similar crime, the headline sentence would have had to have been “very much higher” than the 10-year one Judge McCabe nominated for his client.
The basis on which the jury was invited to find the appellant guilty related to the fatal assault on Mr Kenny, counsel continued, even though it had never been part of the prosecution’s case that his client had taken part in Mr Kenny’s “restraint or assault”.
“There is no evidence to permit that conclusion to be drawn,” he said.
However, Mr Justice McCarthy, noted that Mr Kenny’s killing had been “a crime of common design” and, in that regard, Lingurar Jnr “bears that responsibility” for the events of that night.
Patrick Gageby SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the robbery had been planned and had been a “gross breach of trust”.
“This was all done for money. Mr Kenny was left dying or dead,” he added.
Referring to the transcript of proceedings from Lingurar Jnr’s trial, Mr Gageby added: “It seems that the trial judge did factor in youth and moral culpability when fixing the headline sentence.
“If the appellant had been involved in the mistreatment of Mr Kenny, the headline sentence would have been a lot higher.”
Last July, the Court of Appeal refused to allow Lingurar Jnr leave to appeal his manslaughter conviction in a hearing where the dead man’s daughter, Gillian Kenny, had asked the court not to allow the appeal to proceed.
Following the burglary and killing in 2011, Lingurar Jnr broke his bail conditions, fled Ireland and returned under a false name, resulting in his trial being delayed until 2019.
A mix-up then resulted in his appeal not being lodged within the required time.
In the judgment, Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham said Ms Kenny had described "in very powerful terms the impact that the killing of their father has had on the Kenny family and how difficult they have found the very lengthy criminal process”.
Mr Justice Birmingham said the grounds of appeal that had been lodged had little chance of success. The interests of justice, he said, would be best served by refusing the application to appeal the conviction.