Sentencing policy - Striking the right balance

It seems incongruous that a person convicted of killing a father of four and another person convicted of a €1.6m tax scam should get the same jail sentence.

Yet that circle was closed yesterday, when Claire Nolan, aged 25, of Blanchardstown, was sent to jail for six years for using her car to kill Michael Duffy in 2008. Convicted of manslaughter, the court heard that Nolan had consumed cocaine and alcohol and “went mental”.

Last week, food importer Paul Begley, aged 46, of Begley Brothers in Blanchardstown, was jailed for six years for dodging tax obligations on garlic imports.

One of the cancers destroying this society is our lax attitude towards white-collar crime, and it is entirelyappropriate that a line be drawn in the sand.

Rather than compare the two sentences maybe we should be asking ourselves whether six years — maybe as little as four served in reality — represents an appropriate term for taking someone’s life, driven mad by cocaine and drink or not.

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