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Sasko Lazarov/
Court of Appeal

18-month jail term for man who falsely imprisoned, threatened to kill partner was too lenient, court rules

The case was heard before the Court of Appeal today.

THE 18-MONTH jail term handed down to a man who falsely imprisoned, threatened to kill and subjected his partner to a series of violent attacks where he repeatedly punched and kicked her, spat in her face and strangled her was too lenient, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Cameron Curtis’ victim told gardaí that she became “incredibly scared” and believed she was going to die when he locked her in a bathroom and said he was going to get a pair of scissors.

During one phase of the attacks, Curtis (20) knelt on the victim’s chest and told her: “I’m going to kill you.” The sentencing court heard that Curtis and the victim remain in a relationship together.

Curtis of Finglas Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Alannah Corrigan causing her harm on 19 July 2022, when the two were staying overnight at The Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire.

He further admitted seven counts of assault causing harm and one count of false imprisonment of Alannah Corrigan on 12, 13, 14 and 16 August at various locations in Binary Hub, Bonham Street in Dublin 8 and was jailed for 18 months by Judge Orla Crowe.

At the Court of Appeal today, presiding judge Mr Justice George Birmingham said the three-judge court agreed with Simon Matthews BL, for the State, that the 18-month sentence was unduly lenient.

Matthews told the non-jury court that the trial judge identified a headline sentence of three years and four months on all charges which was then reduced to two years and six months after mitigation. The last year of all the concurrent sentences was then suspended for two years in the interests of rehabilitation, leaving a total of 18 months jail time for Curtis to serve.

Curtis has now served his sentence after spending around 14 months in jail.

Matthews said both the headline sentence and the final sentence to serve were both unduly lenient.

Matthews said the assaults were over four different dates and were of a “prolonged” nature before a “normality period” would pass and then the assaults would begin again.

That Curtis was in an intimate relationship with the injured party was an aggravating factor, added Matthews.

Counsel said that in addition to the beatings, which included punches, kicks, the production of a knife and threats of weapons, Curtis had locked the injured party in a bathroom for 45 minutes and also prevented her from leaving a kitchen.

Matthews said that on one occasion Curtis also kneeled on the injured party’s chest for around 15 minutes.

Counsel added that while he accepted that Curtis had a violent family background, a risk of reoffending had been noted in a probation report in the context of Curtis still being in a relationship with the victim.

Matthews said that Curtis, who has served his sentence after having it backdated to September 2022, told probation officers that he had no intention of moving back in with his victim but this claim differed to what the injured party had said in her statement.

Barry White SC, for Curtis, submitted that the sentence was “a lenient sentence but I do not accept that it was unduly lenient”.

White said the trial judge had regard to the “seriousness of the offending regarding my client” and that she had taken into account the victim’s impact statement when structuring Curtis’ sentence.

Addressing the question of rehabilitation, White said: “Judge Crowe was looking at a 19-year-old with no previous, who came from a violent background and unfortunately, violence tends to beget violence.”

White said he had to accept the contents of the probation report’s concerns “warts and all” regarding the risk of reoffending and said that the trial judge was also cognisant of the risk when she sentenced his client.

Counsel said that if his client reoffended, then the suspended portion of his sentence would be reactivated and that this was “not to be totally disregarded”.

White said Curtis was engaging with the probation service and that “they have a good relationship”. Counsel added that his client was incarcerated at 19 and had learned his lesson and understood the seriousness of his offending.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the court was of the opinion that the sentence was “not just lenient but unduly lenient”.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the court wanted an updated probation report before finalising matters.

“He [Curtis] needs to be aware his situation is a very precarious one. He needs to put his best foot forward regarding his commitments to probation and employment efforts,” Justice Birmingham told White.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the “very serious” matter was not “something that can be put on the long finger” by Curtis, who was unable to attend today’s hearing due to illness.

Mr Justice Birmingham said if Curtis was unable to attend the next sitting the court would not be prevented from proceeding with his case, which he adjourned to 1 March.

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