Galway man gets six years for manslaughter

A 60-year-old Galway man was sentenced to six years for the manslaughter of a "drinking friend" at the Central Criminal court today.

A 60-year-old Galway man was sentenced to six years for the manslaughter of a "drinking friend" at the Central Criminal court today.

Mr Justice Paul Carney said Patrick McGrath had committed "the less serious of the three common knife situations" and that an early plea of manslaughter had been refused by the prosecution.

As a result of the early plea, Mr Justice Carney said he would suspend 18 months of Mr McGrath's sentence and back date it to March 22, 2002.

Last month, Mr McGrath had been found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter of James Murphy, aged 50, after a jury deliberated for almost four hours.

Mr McGrath had pleaded not guilty to the murder charge of Mr Murphy at Holborn Street, Sligo on March 22, 2002.

Detective Sergeant Thomas Farrell of Sligo town garda station said the accused was separated from his wife, was a chronic alcoholic and been admitted to various institutions as a result.

Det. Sgt Farrell said the accused had "totally admitted the knife was his and had totally admitted he attacked and injured the deceased".

Prosecuting counsel, Mr Edward Comyn, SC told Mr Justice Carney that there was no victim impact statement, saying "there is no such person, he lived alone and his friendships were very peripheral".

During the trial, Mr McGrath gave evidence that he "lost control" after Mr Murphy threatened to hurt him.

McGrath, a Garda's son, told his counsel Mr Anthony Sammon, SC he first befriended Mr Murphy, known to him as "Andy", at a hostel in Wexford and met him again at a night shelter in Sligo.

They both moved into separate flats in Holborn Street and used to drink together.

On March 22, 2002, the accused had been drinking fortified wine when the deceased came into his bedsit and demanded drink.

The accused said they got into "a bit of a tussle and I must have stabbed him".

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