A man jailed for the attempted robbery of a cash-in-transit van has had his prison sentence cut on appeal.
Joseph Warren (aged 32), of Belclare Crescent, Ballymun, had pleaded not guilty to conspiring to steal cash from Chubb Ireland at Tesco supermarket on the Shackleton Road in Cellbridge on November 2, 2007.
Warren had earlier pleaded guilty to possessing ammunition at Poppintree Park, Ballymun on July 19, 2009.
A jury at Dublin Circuit Court found Warren guilty of conspiring to steal and he was sentenced to a total of 14 years imprisonment with the final three suspended by Judge Patrick McCartan on November 14, 2012.
The Court of Appeal heard that the attempted robbery was carried out by a gang led by the late Eamon Dunne.
In 2010, Warren had been identified as a pall bearer at the funeral of Mr Dunne, the court stated previously. This was indicative of a close relationship with the men involved and was inconsistent with a contention that Warren's involvement in the offence was under duress.
He successfully appealed his sentence for conspiracy today with the Court of Appeal holding that he didn't have a lead role in the attempted robbery.
His eight-year sentence for attempted robbery was accordingly cut by 18 months.
Giving judgment on Warren's appeal against sentence today, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said gardaí thwarted the attempt to steal from a cash-in-transit van.
Gardaí had earlier been engaged in a surveillance operation of the men while they travelled in convoy from Ballymun to Chubb's headquarters and on to the shopping centre in Cellbridge.
Warren and one of the other men were seen to approach the vehicle while it was stopped and unsuccessfully attempt to open its door. At this point gardaí intervened.
Warren's barrister, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that eight years was disproportionally high because his client's involvement in the attempted robbery was essentially due to his skill in operating cutting equipment.
Mr Bowman submitted that the trial judge erred in sentencing Warren on the basis that he was part of a well organised gang involved in “drug dealing, armed robbery and contract killing”, in the words of the sentencing judge. These views did not reflect the facts, Mr Bowman said.
Mr Justice Mahon said it appeared that Warren was engaged by the gang because of his skill and training.
There was no evidence to suggest he was involved in the planning or that he had a lead role in the enterprise. His lack of previous convictions tends to support this.
It was appropriate that his sentence ought to reflect the fact that he was a member of the gang on the day in question but did not have a leadership role.
This does not appear to have been sufficiently taken into account by the sentencing judge and on that basis, an error in principle was found.
Mr Justice Mahon said the appropriate headline sentence based on Warren's involvement should have been seven years rather than eight.
There were impressive prison reports before the court which presented a picture of a person very positively engaging with the opportunities presented to him, the judge said.
Mr Justice Mahon said Warren was a “model prisoner” and had genuine family support, excellent prospects of employment on release as well as excellent prospects of rehabilitation and indications that rehabilitation was well under way.
It was important these factors be give full recognition and the court therefore reduced the term by a further six months.
Mr Jutice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, resentenced Warren to six-and-a-half years imprisonment. The other sentence, which had not been appealed, remained consecutive.
Conviction appeal dismissed.
In an unsuccessful appeal against conviction earlier this month, Mr Bowman submitted that the Director of Public Prosecutions “cleansed” the jury of people from three geographical locations in Dublin – Cabra, Ballymun and Finglas because the DPP had “no confidence” in the impartiality of people from these three areas.
Mr Bowman said the only reason a juror could be excluded from serving was in accordance with the 1976 Juries Act, which provides for seven objections without reason and as many objections as reasons or causes could be identified.
Objections to individual jurors were a regular occurence and were supposed to be made transparently in open court, Mr Bowman said.
But in Warren's case the DPP manifestly transgressed this procedure by telling up to 15 potential jurors “downstairs” that they could not even “enter the room”.
Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Mahon said the task of empanelling juries was an important one and, not infrequently, there were practical problems to overcome. Central to the process was jury impartiality.
It was noteworthy, the judge said, that the three areas represented a selection of the population of Dublin from a hand-picked pool.
He said it was a pragmatic exercise in case management and the decision was within the judge's discretion.
Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, said the Circuit Court judge acted appropriately and was entitled to make what was a practical and sensible decision.
In due course, the judge said, Warren accepted that he had been found guilty after a very fair trial - a matter, prosecutors had unsuccessfully argued, should have precluded him from raising the jury matter in his appeal against conviction.