Sentence for man who broke neighbour's jaw and caused €13,000 of damage unduly lenient, says DPP

ireland
Sentence For Man Who Broke Neighbour's Jaw And Caused €13,000 Of Damage Unduly Lenient, Says Dpp
Leon Kelly (34) received a two and a half year sentence at Letterkenny Circuit Criminal Court last November after pleading guilty to assault causing harm to a neighbour and criminal damaged to their property.
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Seán McCárthaigh

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has submitted that an 18-month jail sentence handed down to a Donegal man who caused €13,000 worth of damage after twice ramming his vehicle into a neighbour’s car and home before breaking her jaw was unduly lenient.

Leon Kelly had a two and a half year jail sentence imposed at Letterkenny Circuit Criminal Court last November with the final 12 months suspended after pleading guilty to assault causing harm on Ann Mitchell (62) and criminal damage to her home at Beechwood Grove, Lifford, Co Donegal on April 13th, 2019.

Kelly (34) a father of three of The Close, Raphoe, Co Donegal, fled the scene and tried to escape gardaí by swimming across the River Finn to Strabane, Co Tyrone where he was arrested by the PSNI and returned across the Border.

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He subsequently rammed Ms Mitchell’s home again with his Volkswagen Passat eight days later in what the court heard was a row over money that Kelly claimed he was owed by his victim’s son for a car.

Outlining the appeal, counsel for the DPP, Patricia McLaughlin BL, said the 18-month sentence imposed on Kelly did not reflect the gravity of the offences or the harm he had done, given Ms Mitchell suffered a broken jaw and lost a tooth during an unprovoked assault.

Conscious attack

While it was a drunken, rage-fuelled offence, it was also a very deliberate and conscious attack, said Ms McLaughlin.

She told the Court of Appeal that Kelly’s use of his vehicle as a weapon when under the influence of alcohol was an aggravating factor, as was the second attack eight days after the first incident.

However, counsel for Kelly, Peter Nolan BL, claimed the sentencing judge, Judge John Aylmer had been impressed with his client’s probation report and his potential for rehabilitation.

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While Mr Nolan said the sentence might be considered lenient, he argued it was not unduly lenient.

He claimed Kelly’s attempts at swimming across a river into the North was “a pointless exercise” as the PSNI were alerted and waiting for him on the other riverbank.

Mr Nolan added: “He’s lucky he didn’t drown.”

Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe, presiding, with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said they would deliver a ruling on the appeal on Friday.

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