A criminal with "no regard for court orders" who was on bail and serving a 12-13 year driving ban when he violently attacked a "Good Samaritan" who offered him a lift before hijacking his car, has had his jail time doubled by the Court of Appeal.
Michael Delaney (36) of Barrett Place, Doyle Street, Waterford, was sentenced to three years' imprisonment by Waterford Circuit Criminal Court in June 2022 after he pleaded guilty to several offences relating to a hijack on June 21, 2021, in Kilmeaden, Co. Waterford.
At the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the court would increase Delaney's overall sentence to seven years with the final 12 months suspended.
Delaney was originally jailed by Judge Eugene O'Kelly after he pleaded guilty to the unlawful seizure of a vehicle, assault causing harm and violent disorder. He was jailed for four years with the final year suspended for the hijacking, three years for the assault causing harm and to 18 months fully suspended for the violent disorder.
Delaney was also concurrently sentenced to four months' imprisonment each for dangerous driving, driving without insurance, driving without a licence and failing to supply gardaí with a urine specimen. The State appealed the sentences in their totality for the "shocking" incident, claiming they were unduly lenient.
Conor O'Doherty BL, for the State, said the injured party was "profoundly affected" by Delaney's assault and that he had to give up his job as a bus driver as a result of his injuries.
Mr O'Doherty said blood had been found on Delaney's footwear and the incident was "extremely serious and shocking" at a time when Delaney was already on bail.
Delaney's sentencing hearing heard that Garda Sharon Ryan received a report of males fighting on the road near Kilmeaden. When she arrived, she met an injured male with blood coming from his mouth who said his car had been stolen and he was assaulted by the man who had stolen it.
The injured party, Zolt Tolmowski, who was described in court as a "good Samaritan", was driving when he came upon Delaney and a woman, standing next to their car, which had broken down.
Mr Tolmowski offered Delaney a lift but was instead dragged from the car and punched repeatedly in the head and body, before being thrown against the car, on the road, and then into a ditch. Mr Tolmowski had to then jump out of the way of his own car as it was driven towards him as it was being stolen.
After calls were received by gardaí of the car driving dangerously, it was found crashed at a roundabout near Kilbarry. Delaney was arrested near the scene, and due to his level of intoxication, he was deemed unfit for questioning. During later interviews, he maintained a ‘no comment’ attitude towards gardaí but the DNA of the injured party was found on Delaney’s shoes.
Mr Tolmowski submitted a Victim Impact Statement, which said the assault left him with broken teeth, vision problems and constant ringing in his ears.
"My teeth were broken. I had a face full of injuries and some wounds on my body. My right eye had vision problems which was later treated in the hospital.
"These things have changed my life, I must say, in a very negative way," said Mr Tolmowski in his statement.
At the time of his sentencing, Delaney had 99 previous convictions, including those for violent disorder, public order, criminal damage, assault causing harm, possession of a knife, possession of drugs, handling stolen property, dangerous driving, hit-and-run, drink-driving, and has been disqualified from driving since 2009. Delaney was disqualified from driving at the time of the latest offences.
At the Court of Appeal on Thursday, Mr Justice McCarthy said the court would quash the original sentence, having found it unduly lenient, and proceed to re-sentence Delaney.
In re-sentencing Delaney, Mr Justice McCarthy said the headline sentence of six years for the hijacking identified by the trial judge was too low and identified eight years as a substituted headline sentence. He then said the court believed that a two-year reduction on that sentence was appropriate. Mr Justice McCarthy said the court would suspend the final year of that sentence by a year, leaving five years' imprisonment to be served for the hijacking.
Mr Justice McCarthy said the trial judge was correct in jailing Delaney for three years for the assault but that a custodial sentence of 12 months was warranted on the charge of violent disorder.
Mr Justice McCarthy said the sentences for the assault causing harm and for the hijacking would run concurrently to each other but consecutively to the 12 months sentence for violent disorder.
The judge said the Court of Appeal had taken into account a number of documents showing that "Mr Delaney had engaged with services available to him while incarcerated".
"He has engaged with the Traveller Mediation Services training programme, as well as undertaken a Crime Awareness Course with the Education and Training Board. He is participating in second-level mediation training, a setting-learning-goals course and one in resilience training," said Mr Justice McCarthy, who also noted Delaney's participation in an anger management course.
"It seems to us that these indicate the beginnings of rehabilitation," said Mr Justice McCarthy, who said compensation had been paid to Mr Tolmowski and that Delaney had a sick child.
"Taking the matter in the round, we think that the sentence is appropriate for that totality of criminality in the personal circumstances of the respondent," said Mr Justice McCarthy.
When sentencing Delaney in June of last year, Judge O’Kelly said the accused had "no regard for court orders", and referred to the injured party as "a good Samaritan" coming to the aid of another.
Judge O’Kelly considered it an aggravating factor that Mr Delaney did not just steal the car but he inflicted a "very serious beating" on another person in the course of it.
Paul Hutchison BL, for Delaney, said his client's co-accused in the matter did most of the damage when the car was being driven in and around Kilmeaden. Mr Hutchinson said there had not been a repeat assault in the matter and that all charges arose from one "unfortunate" and "nasty" incident.
Mr Justice McCarthy said it was a "bad case" with "devastating consequences". Mr Justice George Birmingham noted Delaney's 99 previous convictions at the time of the incident and said that Delaney, according to court records, appeared to be driving while disqualified for 12-13 years.
Mr Hutchison said his client had poor personal circumstances and that around €7,000 had been paid over in compensation by Delaney who was remorseful.