Dublin men fail in appeal over lengthy sentences for 'vicious and savage' assaults

One of the two men's victims suffered a serious brain injury as a result of an assault five years ago
Dublin men fail in appeal over lengthy sentences for 'vicious and savage' assaults

Paul Neilan

Two men who received lengthy prison terms for taking part in a series of “vicious and savage” assaults five years ago, which left one victim with a serious brain injury, have failed in appeals against the severity of their sentences.

One of the attackers - Stephen Coyle - was captured on CCTV stamping on a victim's head after they were knocked to the ground. He has 62 previous convictions, which include nine public order offences.

Lawyers for Leroy Howard and Coyle had claimed the sentencing judge, Judge Martina Baxter, had erred in law in setting a headline sentence of 10 years in their cases - the maximum term for the offence of violent disorder.

On Thursday, presiding judge at the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe, sitting with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, dismissed both appeals.

Mr Justice Woulfe said the court found the sentencing judge did not err in principle by nominating the headline sentence due to the "violence involved being a highly aggravating factor on the evidence before her".

He added Judge Baxter took sufficient account of the argued mitigating factors for both men, namely their personal circumstances, their pleas of guilty and their expressions of remorse.

Regarding Howard, Mr Justice Woulfe said the appellant's sentence could be viewed as "relatively lenient" as it was imposed to run concurrently, as opposed to consecutively, to the jail term he was already serving at the time of his sentencing by Judge Baxter.

Mr Justice Woulfe said neither case gave rise for the Court of Appeal's intervention, dismissing both appeals.

Father of two Howard (30), of Oriel Hall, Dublin 1, was given a seven-and-a-half year jail term with the final 12 months suspended at Trim Circuit Criminal Court in July 2020 after pleading guilty to violent disorder and assault causing harm during the incident in Ashbourne, Co Meath in the early hours of August 1st, 2016.

Coyle (34), of Lower Oriel Street, Dublin 1, was also sentenced to seven-and-a-half years' imprisonment for the same offences but had the final two years suspended.

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