'Sadistic monster' fails in appeal of sentence for abuse of elderly parents

A man described as a “sadistic monster” for subjecting his elderly parents to a five-month campaign of “excessive cruelty, brutality and obscenity of every kind” has failed in an appeal against his 15-year sentence.

John Trimble (aged 40) of Bolart, Clara, Co Offaly, admitted harassing, falsely imprisoning, endangering and assaulting his parents, 71-year-old Elizabeth and 72-year-old John Trimble Senior, at the family home on dates between March 1 and July 17, 2009.

He was jailed for 15 years by Judge Anthony Kennedy at Tullamore Circuit Criminal Court in November last year.

The court heard that Trimble kept his elderly parents naked and deprived them of food. He forced them to take cold showers several times a day, forced his mother to clean the floor using wipes whilst naked and forced her to walk naked to a shed outside. He also prevented his father, who was suffering with prostate cancer, from consulting with his doctor.

Trimble, who was previously convicted by Portarlington District Court of harassing and stalking a neighbour in September 2000, offered no explanation for his offending.

The Court of Criminal Appeal found today there was no evidence that the 15-year sentence imposed by Judge Kennedy was in breach of a principle of law.

Presiding judge Ms Justice Fidelma Macken said that the court found it difficult to describe the offences as anything other than “most grave” and “utterly degrading” and had determined that none of grounds of appeal adduced against severity of sentence should be granted.

Counsel for the applicant, Mr David Goldberg SC, had argued the declaration of the sentencing judge that: “In my 40 years prosecuting, defending and judging cases of every sort I thought I had seen it all – well I haven’t,” indicated that he regarded the case as the worst he had ever heard.

He said that although this was a “very disturbing” and “distressing” case, it was not the worst case to come before the courts, and submitted that there had to be a context and parameters within which a case should be assessed.

Mr Goldberg said that Judge Kennedy erred in principle by failing to give adequate weight to the mitigating factors in the case, such as Trimble’s plea of guilty, his cooperation with gardaí and the possibility of rehabilitation.

He said that that there had to be an element of hope in sentencing, but the sentence of 15 years imposed was excessive and effectively a life sentence, leaving little “light at the end of the tunnel”.

Counsel for the State, Mr Padraic Hogan BL, said that Judge Kennedy was entitled to give the minimum credit due for Trimble’s cooperation with the authorities and remorse after having the opportunity to observe his demeanour first hand.

He said that validity of Trimble’s remorse had to be viewed in the context of the “deplorable presentation” he had given in his evidence to the court where in the view of the sentencing judge he “wallowed in self-pity”.

He said that the court was not bound to accept any apology offered and the Judge Kennedy was not convinced that the remorse displayed was real or valid.

Mr Hogan said that the sentencing judge was also correct in giving Trimble minimal credit for his plea of guilty, a plea that could be viewed as inevitable given the willingness of his elderly parents to testify against him.

Mr Hogan told the court that the sentencing judge could not have erred with regard to the principle of rehabilitation as no material went before him on the suitability of the applicant for rehabilitative programmes.

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