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sentencing problems

Man with 423 convictions has sentence for robbery reduced

Anthony O’Sullivan has had his sentence reduced from five to four years at the Court of Appeal.

15736529131_5ccbc0ff5e_o Richard Woffenden Richard Woffenden

A MAN WITH 423 previous convictions has had his sentence for robbery reduced at the Court of Appeal after “problems” were identified in the sentencing process.

Anthony O’Sullivan (29), of Araglen Court, Togher, Cork, had pleaded guilty to robbery and attempted robbery at a shop in Cork City on 13 January 2014.

He was sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to five years imprisonment with the final year suspended by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin on 23 February 2015.

O’Sullivan successfully appealed his sentence yesterday and was accordingly re-sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended.

Giving judgement, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said O’Sullivan had entered a shop in Cork city carrying a wheel brace and with a scarf covering his face on the date in question.

He approached the till area and shouted to the shop assistant to give him money. When she refused he grabbed a purse from a student who happened to be standing nearby. The total value of the items he took was €320, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

The shop assistant who “very bravely” refused to hand over money now felt frightened going about her business and carries a panic button with her, the judge said.

O’Sullivan was 28 and was living at home with his father at the time of sentence. He had been addicted to heroin and was the father of a young child.

He had 423 previous convictions with 366 for road traffic matters. The sentencing court was told he had a number of convictions under the theft act for offences including burglary and robbery.

Mr Justice Sheehan said “two problems” arose when it came to reviewing the sentencing procedure.

The Court of Appeal was unable to ascertain where on the scale of offending the sentencing judge located this particular offence. Mr Justice Sheehan said the approach was unsatisfactory and the Court of Appeal should not be obliged to speculate what allowance was given for the mitigating factors and O’Sullivan’s rehabilitation.

“Minor offences”

Furthermore, there was a failure by the sentencing court to receive a proper and accurate summary of O’Sullivan’s criminal record. Even now, “we do not know if he has ever been tried on indictment” in the Circuit Court, the judge said.

“Bad and all as his record is,” Mr Justice Sheehan said it meant all of his previous convictions encompass offences which attract a description of ‘minor offences’. This was relevant, Mr Justice Sheehan said.

The court heard that the Circuit Court judge acted with “unnecessary haste”. He had remarked that he didn’t want to be “bored” by O’Sullivan’s list of previous convictions and that his barrister should prepare a proper summary “for the Court of Appeal”.

According to the probation report, Mr Justice Sheehan said O’Sullivan had been addicted to heroin at the time of the offence but he had “begun to take some personal responsibility for his addiction”.

Noting that he had a young daughter, the court believed it “just” to reduce the custodial aspect by 25%.

Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, resentenced O’Sullivan to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended.

He was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for the suspended period.

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