Judge seeks urgent security review

There were angry scenes at the Four Courts earlier today when a person sitting in the public gallery was removed from a court room after the Court of Criminal Appeal imposed a 120 hour community sentence order on a man who admitted dangerous driving causing death of a young woman.

Following the incident Supreme Court Judge Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns called for an "urgent security view", and said that risks to those working in and attending the courts "shouldn't be tolerated."

The incident occurred after the CCA's decision to impose a community sentence order following an appeal by the DPP against what it claimed was the unduly lenient sentence imposed on Andrew Keogh (aged 24) who had previously admitted dangerous driving causing the death of a nursing home care worker Sabrina Lynch (aged 28).

A young man, believed to be a relative of Ms Lynch, expressed his anger after the CCA had made it's decision.

He rose to his feet and began shouting profanities at Mr Keogh, and clamoured over the barrister's benches in the direction of the where the three Judges were seated.

The young man, standing on a table in front of the court's registrar and the judges, picked up a glass drinking decanter and threw it in the direction of where Mr Keogh was sitting in court.

The glass, which shattered on impact, did not strike any person in the courtroom.

The young man, still shouting, was then accosted and removed from the court by members of the Gardai. A number of people in the court room were left visibly shaken and upset by the events.

Unperturbed by what had happened the three Judge Court of Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, Mr Justice Declan Budd and Mr Justice Michael Hanna briefly withdrew from the court, but returned 15 minutes after the incident to resume its business.

Following the incident Mr Justice Kearns called for the Director General of the Courts Services to "urgently review" safety procedures in the CCA.

The Judge also said that any risks to the health and safety of those working in the courts and the general public and disruption of the court's business should not be tolerated.

The Court was also informed that the young man had been detained by the Gardaí, and it was intended that charges would be brought against him.

Yesterday the court heard that last February, at Dublin Circuit Court, Andrew Keogh a father of one received a three-year suspended sentence along with a €2,500 fine and a seven-year driving ban after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on April 21, 2006, at Mount Seskin Road, Brittas. The sentence was imposed by Judge Katherine Delahunt.

Mr Keogh (aged 24), Carmody Way, Fairgreen, Portlaoise, was driving his car with three passengers at 120km/h in a 60km/h zone when he crashed into a car at the entrance to a caravan park.

The DPP appealed against what it claimed was the unduly leniency of the case. Ms Cathleen Noctor BL for the DPP argued that the trial judge had given insufficient weight to the fact that Keogh had been travelling at twice the legal speeding limit at the time of the incident.

Counsel for Keogh, argued that the sentence should be left undisturbed.

Mr Keogh had pleaded at an early stage, and had no previous convictions.

In its judgment the CCA said that this was a "terrible tragedy" which had claimed the life of a mother of two young children.

The court noted the speed at which Keogh had been travelling at the time of the collision, which was twice the legal limit.

However it also said that there was no question in this case that Keogh had been drink driving or involved in any "racing."

Keogh had also received a number of positive character references, and noted that it was unlikely that he would re-offend.

The Court decided that a more appropriate sentence in the circumstances was 120 hours of community service, and had directed that the service be done in the area where Ms Lynch was from.

The court also upheld the length of Keogh's driving ban and the fine imposed on him.

However following the young man's intervention the court decided if would review the location of where the community service order should be carried out.


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