A Wicklow man has had his six year prison sentence for violently assaulting a father in his home reduced to four by the Court of Appeal.
Wesley O'Brien (aged 25) with a last address at Ashlawn Court, Bray, Co Wicklow, along with his sister Emma O'Brien (aged 32) of Old Connaught View, had pleaded guilty to intentionally causing harm and committing violent disorder at the home of Michael Connors in the town on March 14, 2009.
O'Brien and his sister Emma were sentenced to six years imprisonment for violent disorder and three-and-a-half years for intentionally causing harm by Judge Patricia Ryan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on February 21, 2012. Sentences in respect of both counts were to run concurrently.
Counsel for the DPP, Kevin Segrave BL, told the Court of Appeal today that on the date in question Mr Connors had heard the sound of glass breaking near his property.
When he went to the front of his house, Emma O'Brien emerged from behind a bush shouting "get him, get him, get him" which provoked the violence to commence.
Mr Segrave said the victim was set upon with sticks and golf clubs and his eight-year-old son described Wesley O'Brien as having some sort of knife which he put to the face and mouth of Mr Connors when he was on the ground.
The production of the knife was bad, Mr Segrave said, but the application of the knife to the victim's face should distinguish O'Brien from everybody else involved in the offence.
Counsel for O'Brien, Colman Fitzgerald SC, told the court that there were initially five charged with the offence, two of whom “pre-deceased” sentencing and a fifth man received six years for assault causing harm and four years for violent disorder.
Mr Fitzgerald submitted that his client, Wesley O'Brien, was convicted on a plea of guilty on a section 3 offence while his co-accused was convicted on a plea of guilty on a Section 4 offence.
Counsel said that while the initial evidence alleged there was a knife, it was later changed to a slash hook.
“That did not improve matters”, Mr Justice Birmingham remarked.
The judge said Wesley O'Brien engaged in an “extremely serious” and violent assault on Mr Connors who was struck with sticks and golf clubs.
Mr Connors lost consciousness, suffered multiple fractures to his skull and wrist, he received rib injuries and many other injuries as a result of the assault Mr Justice Birmingham said.
He said the central issue was the disparity between how O'Brien was dealt with in Dublin and how his co-accused was dealt with in Wicklow.
Mr Justice Birmingham said it would have been appropriate for O'Brien's sentence to be fixed at the same level as his co-accused. Consequently, the court substituted O'Brien's sentence of six years with a sentence of four.
Legal representatives for Emma O'Brien had earlier told the court today that their instructions were to withdraw their client's appeal.
Mr Justice Ryan struck out the appeal and added that Emma O'Brien's six year prison sentence was affirmed.