Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced Christopher Ruby, 18, of Árd na Gréine, Station Road, Blarney, Cork, for killing Shannon Ruby, 30, on Saturday, September 26, 2009, at a neighbouring house at Árd na Gréine, Station Road, Blarney, Co Cork.
The judge said that fatal knife crimes fell into three categories of seriousness: someone picking up a knife being used for chopping carrots or something and then using it as a weapon; using a knife being carried for protection; and, thirdly, going away after a fight to get a knife and returning to use it. Mr Justice Carney said that the crime committed by Christopher Ruby fell into that third and most serious category, as he left the scene of a fight in order to get a weapon and then returned to find Shannon Ruby and kill him with it.
The judge also took into consideration the fact that Ruby had previous convictions including counts for drug-dealing and assault.
Detective Garda Maurice Leahy said the defendant and the deceased had been drinking and taking drugs in the hours before this fatal incident and the deceased struck his nephew, in front of others, knocking him to the floor. Christopher Ruby got up and went back into his own home nearby where he got the flick-knife from his bedroom. He went back to find the late Shannon Ruby, whom he stabbed a number of times.
The deceased’s parents, Frank and Ursula, said in their victim impact report, “Unfortunately, the Shannon we knew and loved, turned to be addicted to heroin with an overwhelming need to feed his habit.
“Christopher turned against drugs. We would like to see Christopher maintain his drug-free status. We know he badly regrets his actions. He lived with us for 12 years. I class him also as a son.”
The family asked through this statement if the judge would let Christopher continue with drug treatment and not send him to prison.
Mr Justice Carney said that the sentence would have been “significantly more substantial but for the plea they have made”.
The judge had put lawyers on both sides on notice of what he described as, “a most improper communication” which he received in relation to sentencing. He said it didn’t affect his decision, adding that his judgment was fully committed to paper before he received the communication.
The judge revealed the communication came in the form of a letter. Mr Justice Carney said, in the matter of sentencing, he only had regard for what was said in open court in the presence of all parties and not to any materials sent him behind the backs of the parties.
Frank Buttimer, solicitor, acknowledged the letter sent by Leslie Ruby, sister of the deceased. Mr Buttimer said she was present in court, was apologetic for sending the letter and that it was never her intention to show contempt of the court.
Mr Justice Carney said, “No apology is due to me. I have to preserve the integrity of the trial process... Now that I have defended the integrity of the process, the matter is closed, as far as I am concerned.”