Man fails in attempted murder appeal

A man who was released from a life sentence for murder under the Good Friday Agreement yesterday failed in his appeal against the severity of the life sentence he received for attempting to murder another man.

A man who was released from a life sentence for murder under the Good Friday Agreement yesterday failed in his appeal against the severity of the life sentence he received for attempting to murder another man.

Last January Robert Duffy (aged 36) of Old Bridge, Toberona, Dundalk, pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Colin O'Neill by shooting him in the face at the Emerald Bar, Dundalk, on March 10 2007. Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed a life sentence on Duffy.

The Central Criminal Court heard Duffy, a father of two, was intoxicated and got into a row with Mr O'Neill, whose mother owned the Emerald Bar on Church Street, Dundalk.

Duffy was thrown out but came back a short time later with a shotgun, walking along the bar to where Mr O'Neill was standing, pointing the gun in his face and firing at point blank range.

Mr O'Neill survived the attack by raising his hand just as the shot was fired, but sustained injuries to his hand. As Mr O'Neill tried to escape he was shot in the back by Duffy.

Today the CCA of Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman presiding, sitting with Mr Justice Liam McKechnie and Mr Justice George Birmingham rejected Duffy's appeal against the severity of the life sentence.

The DPP had opposed the appeal.

In rejecting the appeal Mr Justice Hardiman said that this was "an appalling case," involving "sheer evil", and the Court could not find any error with the sentence imposed by the trial judge.

Previously the Central Criminal Court heard that Duffy was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for murdering company director John Gibson whom he shot dead in the driveway of his home in Belfast.

The court heard Mr Gibson had worked on a job for the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the IRA claimed the killing. He was released under the Good Friday Agreement in 2000.

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