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Woman who killed grandfather returned to jail after failing to give up drink

Johanna Kelly had been freed from prison following her conviction for manslaughter on condition that she give up alcohol and engage with probation services.

SONY DSC Source: William Murphy

A KILLER WHO was freed from jail on condition she give up drinking and engage with probation services has been sent back to prison for one year to serve part of a suspended sentence.

Johanna Kelly (43), with an address at Farran Park, Waterford, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 60-year-old grandfather Patrick O’Brien in December 2013.

She was sentenced to six years in prison with two suspended on the condition she adhere to conditions set by the trial judge Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.

At the Central Criminal Court on 3 June Mr Justice McCarthy heard from a probation officer that Ms Kelly has failed to meet those conditions.

Ms Katherine Lambert told the court that Ms Kelly was attending a rehab clinic known as Cluain Mhuire but that she was ordered to leave in March after she got drunk and became violent, requiring gardaí to remove her.

Ms Lambert said she has contacted Cluain Mhuire since and they said that they will not take Ms Kelly back.

The court also heard that Ms Kelly had pleaded guilty at a district court to theft and was handed a one-week sentence.

On that date Ms Kelly took the stand and told Mr Justice McCarthy that she needed one more chance.

My downfall”

“I want to say sorry,” she said. “It’s my drinking that is my downfall. I need to get up on my own two feet.”

She said that if she is allowed to go free she will return to Waterford with her partner. She told told the judge that the prospect of returning to prison was a “wake-up call”.

Today Mr Justice McCarthy said that this was a case where “every possible opportunity” had been give to Ms Kelly “to reform herself”.

The court heard that this was a homicide case where “ultimately the accused was held responsible for the manslaughter of another person”.

“This must be regarded as a very grave crime and every facility has been extended to Ms Kelly to offer her an opportunity to rehabilitate herself,” he said.

The judge said the probation services had displayed “commendable forbearance and conscientiousness”.

Mr Justice McCarthy then said he had decided not to activate the entirety of the sentence.

“I impose a period of 12 months at this stage and I will vary it to reduce it from two years to one year,” he said.

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The judge continued: “I regard it as an extremely tolerant outcome as court orders must be obeyed. This lady has been given every chance and has not taken them. A line has to be drawn.”

“Learn her lesson”

Mr Justice McCarthy said that this period of imprisonment meant Ms Kelly would learn her lesson “finally and conclusively”.

This will give encouragement to rehabilitation but there must be a line drawn somewhere. Finality must be brought into this case.

I am removing or discharging one year of the suspended sentence and imposing a one year sentence.

“I hope I won’t shut the door completely and there is some light at the end of the tunnel,” he added.

Ms Kelly has been in custody since 28 May of this year and the sentence was backdated from then.

Read: Man who bought €1.26 million investment home hasn’t paid mortgage in six years, court hears

Read: Man who killed parents with an axe committed to Central Mental Hospital

About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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