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Court of Appeal increases burglar's three month sentence to two-and-a-half years

It found his original term to be too lenient.

Image: Shutterstock/Kuzma

THE COURT OF Appeal has increased a burglar’s three month prison sentence to two-and-a-half years after finding his original term to be too lenient.

Richard Evans (34), with an address at Home Again, Conyngham Road, Dublin 8, had 127 previous convictions, including 17 for burglary, when he was jailed for burglary of a domestic dwelling at Coke Lane in the capital on 18 February 2015.

Evans pleaded guilty to the offence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and was sentenced to three months imprisonment by Judge Petria McDonnell on 6 February 2017. He was given a separate sentence on the same occasion for criminal damage after being convicted by a jury for that offence.

The Director of Public Prosecutions successfully sought a review of Evans’ three-month sentence on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”. The three-judge Court of Appeal accordingly re-sentenced him to two-and-a-half years imprisonment with the final nine months suspended.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the injured party had encountered Evans close to his home, in possession of two bags belonging to him. The injured party tackled Evans, successfully recovering the bags. He did not recover other items taken from his home, including a packet of cigarettes and a pouch containing £150 sterling (€172).

Evans was later identified on CCTV. He was then identified by the injured party on an identification parade. He pleaded guilty at a late stage.

Mr Justice Mahon said Evans had 127 previous convictions. He said a suspended sentence for burglary, recorded in March 2013, was subsequently activated and is currently being served.

He came from a dysfunctional background, had a history of drug taking but was apparently drug free since July 2015. He previously worked as a baker and a forklift driver before becoming homeless.

‘Unduly lenient’

In seeking a review of sentence, counsel for the DPP, Garrett McCormack BL, submitted that the sentencing judge failed to adequately reflect the seriousness of the offence by imposing a three-month sentence.

Mr Justice Mahon said the Circuit Court judge had sentenced Evans to 12 months imprisonment in respect of criminal damage, with the final six months suspended, before imposing a concurrent three month sentence in respect of the burglary.

He said the most serious aspect of the offence was Evans’ previous convictions and that 17 of them related to burglaries. Furthermore, the activated sentence Evans was currently serving also related to burglary.

However, he said no apparent consideration was given to the existence of “many previous burglary convictions”.

He said it was evident from the Circuit Court judge’s remarks that she treated the burglary offence as less serious than the criminal damage counts. The Court of Appeal could not agree and was “satisfied that the reverse is the case”.

Mr Justice Mahon said the burglary offence was more serious and required to be treated as such in the sentence imposed.

He said the Court of Appeal was satisfied that Evans’ sentence was unduly lenient to a significant degree.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice John Hedigan, re-sentenced Evans to two years and six months imprisonment with the final nine months suspended.

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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