Appeals court reduces man’s jail sentence for assault

A man jailed for seriously assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s work colleague, who was hit by a car and lost his foot, has had his sentence reduced by the Court of Appeal.

Joseph Cullen, aged 46, with an address at Adare Avenue, Coolock, Dublin 5, pleaded not guilty to alternative counts of assault causing harm and assault causing serious harm to Kevin Byrne in Finglas on March 2, 2008.

He was found guilty by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of assault causing serious harm to Mr Byrne and was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment by Judge Patricia Ryan on December 20, 2010.

Cullen failed in his appeal against conviction yesterday but had his sentence reduced to nine years by the Court of Appeal.

Giving background to the case, Mr Justice John Edwards said Cullen had called to his ex-girlfriend’s house on the night in question and realised another man, Mr Byrne, was inside.

The jury heard that Mr Byrne and Jackie White had shared a taxi home from a work function and Mr Byrne required the use of her bathroom when they reached her home.

Cullen then came into the house looking “incensed” and “roared” a number of times at Mr Byrne, who ran out the front door, Mr Justice Edwards said.

He said Mr Byrne could hear Cullen running after him, shouting “I’m going to get you, I’m going to...”

The jury heard that Mr Byrne had made it to the edge of a small green area at the top of the road “when I was hit from behind by a car and I went rolling for about 30/40 feet on to that green area”.

He said three men, including Cullen, then came from behind the car and beat him. After they stopped momentarily, he got up and ran but was hit by the car again, this time being flipped up in the air, landing on the ground with his legs under the car, which was “pinned right up against him”.

He was eventually removed from the scene by emergency services. He spent 18 days in hospital and underwent seven operations under general anaesthetic in connection with his various injuries.

Ultimately, his right foot had to be amputated.

Cullen appealed his conviction on grounds that there had been no indication that the prosecution were relying on joint enterprise until their closing speech and, consequently, the judge had erred by refusing to direct the jury to return a verdict of not guilty.

In its judgment, the Court of Appeal concluded that the charges were proffered as alternatives and Cullen did not have a legitimate basis for believing that he was in peril of being convicted on both counts, as had been submitted.


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