A Dublin man was jailed for four and a half years for the manslaughter of his younger brother at the Central Criminal Court today.
Derek McGrath (aged 36), Fortlawn Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his 23-year old brother, Anthony at Whitestown Walk, Blanchardstown, in October 2006.
Delivering his sentence, Mr Justice Paul Carney said: “This is the fourth case of fratricide which I’ve had within a short space of time.
“These cases tend to arise from an alcohol-fuelled row between loving members of a family. These cases are particularly difficult both for the accused and for the family concerned.
“In this case, the family who are also the victims asked me to consider a moderate sentence on the basis of having lost one son, they do not want to lose another to a long prison sentence.
“I have to balance that consideration against the ruling of the Chief Justice that not only does voluntary consumption of alcohol and drugs afford no defence, but also affords no mitigating factors against responsibilities in society.”
Father-of-three Derek McGrath stabbed his younger brother Anthony once in the neck after a drunken row at his house during which Anthony swung a hatchet at Derek and another man.
When gardaí arrived on the scene they found Derek crouched over his brother, holding his head. He was saying “sorry” and “God let him live”.
Earlier that day, the brothers had been at a family christening. Derek had been drinking for two days and had taken cocaine and valium in the run-up to the stabbing.
The court was told that they had “a normal brother relationship” and that Derek spent most of his life fighting addiction.
The court also heard that their father had chronic alcohol problems and Derek had acted in the place of their father, looking after his two younger brothers.
A letter written by his mother Rita McGrath was also read out to the court.
Mrs McGrath said that: “Derek loved Anthony from the moment he was born. He was very protective of him. Derek tried to fill the role of father with his two younger brothers.
“Any punishment Derek receives will not be as bad as what he is going through at the moment.”