An application should have been made for the release of Wayne O’Donoghue immediately after Majella Holohan’s victim impact statement, according to the barrister who represented O’Donoghue during his trial for the murder of 11-year-old Robert Holohan.
Speaking last night at a UCC Law Society debate, Senior Counsel Blaise O’Carroll argued in favour of the motion that victim impact statements are detrimental to true justice.
The debate was held just weeks after Mr Justice Paul Carney, also speaking at UCC, said Majella Holohan’s victim impact statement had “frustrated” the sentencing process.
In her statement Mrs Holohan spoke about semen that was found on her son’s hand - something which had formed no part of the prosecution case.
Following Judge Carney’s comments, Mrs Holohan said she was hurt and offended, claiming it was inappropriate to censor victims.
Last night, without specifically referring to Majella Holohan or Wayne O’Donoghue, Mr O’Carroll recalled how his client was about to be sentenced based solely on the evidence, mitigating circumstances and jury verdict.
“It was completely hijacked in a sense... I took the view that what happened was so serious that an application should have been made under article 40 of the constitution that he be released forthwith on the basis of what happened being a complete annihilation of the criminal justice system,” said Mr O’Carroll.
“My advice was that we would have nothing more to do with the sentencing hearing. This was my client’s constitutional right to a sentence hearing, it had nothing to do with anybody else,” he added.
Important basic rights and freedoms enshrined in the justice law must not be undermined, according to Mr O’Carroll.
However, Sally O’Hanlon from Support After Crime, argued that victims needed to be given an opportunity to speak as they often feel excluded from trials.
The problem, according to Ms O’Hanlon, is that there are no guidelines given to victims.
She said: “I hope the result of Justice Carney’s speech is that the grey areas will be removed and proper structures will be put in place.”
The Evening Echo was unable to make contact with the Holohans today.