Sentencing policy: Far too soft

John O'Donoghue's home.

The declaration of the Director for Public Prosecutions, at the Court of Appeal, that longer sentences should be imposed for burglaries, because people in rural areas “live in permanent fear or dread”, will win popular support.

The DPP, Claire Loftus, was speaking in the cases of cousins, Michael Casey, aged 34, of Clonlong halting site, in Limerick, and David Casey, aged 23, of Carragh Park, Belcamp, Dublin, who pleaded guilty to burglaries, including one at the home of John O’Donoghue.

Mr O’Donoghue collapsed and died as he was about to confront the intruders, who fled without offering assistance.

In Limerick Circuit Criminal Court, the pair were sentenced to four-and-a-half years of jail, with the final year suspended, in December 2016.

The Court of Appeal found the sentences “unduly lenient”.

New sentences will be imposed in April, days before they are due for release.

Hopefully, those sentences will better reflect society’s abhorrence of this odious behaviour.

It may be too much, though, to expect the circuit criminal court to explain the rationale behind its first decision.

More’s the pity.

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