Mother 'tortured' by how her son's life ended, court hears

Loretta Power said her son Jack was a hard-working man with a 'big smile and laugh' whose 'kindness will forever be locked in my heart'
Mother 'tortured' by how her son's life ended, court hears

Eoin Reynolds

A mother whose son was stabbed to death after he smashed the front window of a house and entered through the front door has told the Central Criminal Court that she is tortured by how his life ended and the pain he must have felt.

In a written statement, Loretta Power said her son Jack Power was a hard-working man with a “big smile and laugh” whose “kindness will forever be locked in my heart”.

She said that the four years since his death, which have included two trials for the man who killed her son, have “taken a huge toll” as the family serves a “life sentence every day but we keep going because that is what he would have wanted us to do.”

Her statement was read out at a sentencing hearing for Dean Kerrie (21), with an address at St Brigid's Square, Portarlington in Co Laois, who was twice tried for murder but convicted by a jury of manslaughter for killing Mr Power after the deceased had entered his home at Shanakiel in Dunmore East, Waterford in the early hours of July 26th, 2018. Kerrie was 17 at the time and his trial heard that Mr Power went to Kerrie’s home because he believed the accused had damaged his car.

At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Sgt Michelle Burns told prosecution counsel Michael Delaney SC that there were different accounts of what happened after Mr Power entered the house. It was clear, however, that there was a “scuffle” between Mr Power and the accused in the bedroom.

One witness said that following the scuffle Mr Power was about to leave when Kerrie, who had moved to the kitchen, called Mr Power and then stabbed him once in the chest.

First trial

At his first trial last February, Kerrie gave evidence and told the jury that Mr Power had lost his footing and fell onto a knife that Kerrie had picked up while the deceased was attacking his mother. The jury in that trial could not reach a verdict.

Kerrie did not give evidence at his second trial but the jury heard that after he was arrested Kerrie told Sgt Pat Kenny: "He should not have come into my house. I was asleep. I heard a smash and the front window breaking. Jack was in the hall and grabbed my mother. He started punching and swinging kicks. I grabbed a knife that was next to bed. Stabbed him with it." Sgt Kenny said Kerrie was holding a bottle of holy water as he spoke.

A witness called by the defence said that the stabbing happened in Kerrie’s bedroom while Mr Power was pulling Mr Kerrie’s mother, Ann Fitzgerald, by the hair.

Kerrie’s barrister, Ciaran O'Loughlin SC, on Wednesday said that what happened was a “tragedy” and “it’s not as if he set out and savagely attacked Mr Power. There was one knife wound and one only.”

He said the jury’s verdict of manslaughter suggested they accepted that he had gone “over the top” in using force in self-defence but, counsel said, the court should take into account that it was “one and only one movement of the knife” after an intrusion into Kerrie's home late at night.

He said a probation report handed into the court showed that Kerrie is genuinely remorseful but remains at a moderate risk of violent reoffending if exposed to drugs, alcohol or other anti-social elements.

He asked the court to consider suspending a portion of Kerrie’s sentence on condition that he does whatever the probation service says is necessary.

Michael Delaney SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that if the same offence were committed by an adult it should be considered in the middle range for manslaughter offences. He said the director offers no opinion on whether Kerrie’s age at the time of the offence should put him in a lower range. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life imprisonment.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott adjourned sentencing until next Wednesday, October 26th.

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