A man jailed for attempting to pervert the course of justice has had his jail term cut on appeal.
James Conlon (35), from Wilderness Grove, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, had pleaded not (NOT) guilty to two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice during the investigation into the murder of Shane Rossiter in the county in 2012.
Conlon was found guilty by a jury at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to eight years imprisonment with the final year suspended by Judge Thomas Teehan on February 26, 2012.
He successfully appealed his sentence today/yesterday(MONDAY) and was accordingly resentenced to an effective four year term.
Giving judgment in the three-judge Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the background to the offences was to be found in the murder of Shane Rossiter following a house party in Church Lane, Golden, Co. Tipperary on October 17, 2012
Maurice Power (34) of Dranganbeg, Kilmoyler, Cahir was found guilty of Mr Rossiter's murder following a trial at the Central Criminal Court in 2014.
During the investigation into the murder of Mr Rossiter, Conlon along with Maurice Power sought out, for the purpose of taking away, an item of potential evidential value, a computer chip from a woman's home CCTV system which may have been recording at relevant times, Mr Justice Birmingham said.
In the second instance, Conlon sought to dissuade a potential witness, his brother's girlfriend, from giving evidence about his brother.
Mr Justice Birmingham said offences for attempting to pervert the course of justice were “rare” and Conlon's barristers had submitted decisions from the UK, New Zealand and Canada.
But there were a number of factors present which meant the sentencing judge had to treat Conlon's offences as serious.
The very fact there were two offences separated by some weeks indicated that there had been a “persistent attempt” to influence the outcome of the garda investigation and any subsequent trial.
The fact that the underlying offence was murder, the most serious offence known to law, must “by definition be regarded as very serious”.
On the other hand, Conlon had not apparently made any specific threats to the witness nor did he attempt to buy her off.
There was no violence, threats of violence or intimidation and no “sustained campaign” of violence, threats of violence or intimidation.
Although not to his credit, Mr Justice Birmingham said it was a fact that “somebody had been made amenable to the law” and had been convicted of murder.
In the Court of Appeal's view, the sentencing range identified by the Circuit Court judge was inappropriately high.
Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would quash the sentences and substitute in their place, new terms of four years imprisonment and three years imprisonment to run concurrently.