A thief whose dangerous driving lead to the fracture of a six-month old baby’s skull has lost an appeal against the severity of his five year jail term.
Shane Murphy (31) of Comeragh Park, The Glen, Cork, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft as well as dangerous driving causing serious harm on the Blackrock Road, Ballintemple in the city on March 8, 2017.
He was sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to six years imprisonment with the final year suspended by Judge Gerard O’Brien on October 24, 2017. His sentence was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said a mother was walking her six-month-old son in a buggy when a car suddenly came from behind them and collided with a parked car. The mother was knocked to the ground and the buggy, with the baby inside, was “swept away” becoming pinned against a wall.
Murphy was the driver of the car. He retrieved a number of stolen items from the vehicle before fleeing the scene. He had previously stolen the items from two retail stores in Cork.
Upon his arrest, he admitted smoking cannabis, driving the vehicle and fleeing the scene.
The baby was taken to hospital for treatment where it was discovered he had a fractured skull. The little boy continued to undergo treatment at the time of sentence, Ms Justice Kennedy said.
In a victim impact report, the boy’s mother outlined the nature of the impact which caused her to be knocked to the ground and the buggy, with the baby inside, to be “swept away”.
The child was understandably terrified and was crying uncontrollably, the judge said.
Ms Justice Kennedy said Murphy had 104 previous convictions including two “hit and run” convictions. His solicitor had contacted the Gardaí early to indicate Murphy’s intention to plead guilty and he himself wrote a letter from Cork Prison a week after he was remanded in custody. He did not seek bail. While in prison, he underwent a methadone programme and at the time of sentence was an “enhanced prisoner”.
Ms Justice Kennedy said it was a “very serious” offence with “almost every conceivable aggravating factor present”. She said Murphy was intoxicated, was driving while disqualified, had fled the scene and had relevant previous convictions.
The Court of Appeal determined that the headline sentence should have been seven-and-a-half years, which was higher than was selected in the Circuit Court.
However, given the mitigating factors that were present, combined with Murphy’s particularly early guilty plea, Ms Justice Kennedy said the overall sentence would ultimately have been the same.
Ms Justice Kennedy, who sat with president of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, dismissed the appeal.