A man found guilty of shooting his wife dead in an act of gross negligence must wait to hear the outcome of an appeal against his conviction and sentence.
Oliver Kierans (60) of Drumbannon, Bailieborough, Cavan, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Patricia Kierans (54), his wife of 33 years, at his home address on September 5, 2013.
He was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a majority jury verdict following 15 hours of deliberations. He was also found guilty of possessing a double barrel sawn-off shotgun and possessing the weapon with intent to endanger life.
Patricia Kierans died from a shotgun wound to the chest after being shot at a range of about 1.2 metres or four feet, in the close confines of a bedroom in Kierans’ home.
Kierans contended that he had picked up the firearm with the intention of taking his own life but the shotgun discharged in the direction of his wife.
After the shooting, Kierans went to The Square bar in Bailieborough where a "siege" took place.
Garda Thomas Fay, who had known Kierans for almost 30 years, went into the bar to talk to him. However, CCTV footage from inside the pub showed Kierans pointing the shotgun at the garda.
Kierans pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t go off. CCTV showed him looking at the gun quizzically afterwards.
The situation came to an end when Kierans eventually left the pub with Garda Fay.
Kierans was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for his wife’s manslaughter, eight years for possession of the shotgun and 12 years for pointing the gun at Garda Fay by Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly on April 20, 2015. All sentences were to run concurrently.
Ms Justice Donnelly said the “tragedy was brought about by the criminal act of the defendant. I agree with the jury that the correct interpretation is manslaughter through gross negligence. It is tragic that the defendant caused the death of Patricia Kierans. She took great care of her children," she said.
Kierans moved to appeal his conviction and sentence on Thursday in the Court of Appeal where judgment was reserved.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael O’Higgins SC, said the manslaughter was grossly negligent but Kieran’s moral culpability was arguably higher for pointing the gun at Garda Fay.
Mr O’Higgins said it was the production of a sawn-off shotgun to a garda who was known to Kierans, simply carrying out his duty, trying to calm the situation down.
He submitted that the sentencing judge was well justified to impose a higher sentence for what was a “much darker type of offence”.
After the shooting of his wife, he said Kierans reloaded the shotgun, took additional charges and went to a licensed premises where he knew members of the public would be present.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court would reserve its judgment.
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