A man who attacked another man with a poker while claiming to be in the IRA after a row over a parking space has had his sentence reduced on appeal.
Father-of-three Gavin Craven (47) of Glenfield Avenue, Ballyvolane, Co Cork, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with the final year suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on February 15th, 2021, for what the trial judge described as “the highest level” of assault causing harm.
Craven had pleaded guilty to assaulting Fergal Quinn at Mr Quinn’s home at Liffey Place, Cork City, on August 1st, 2020.
At the Court of Appeal on Tuesday, presiding judge Mr Justice Birmingham delivered an ex tempore judgement, where he said the court found the trial judge had erred in setting the pre-mitigation ‘headline sentence’ at five years.
At sentencing, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin had said that the assault causing harm was at “the absolute highest level”. Judge Ó Donnabháin fixed five years’ imprisonment as the headline sentence before discounting 20 per cent for Craven’s early plea of guilty and suspending the final year.
On Tuesday, outlining the background to the case, Mr Justice Birmingham said that Craven’s brother called over to Mr Quinn’s house asking for Mr Quinn to move his car because Craven’s brother wanted to park his car in a spot covered by CCTV in the common area.
However, Mr Quinn said that he could not because he had drink taken and that he would do so in the morning. Craven’s brother then contacted him and he arrived at Mr Quinn’s home brandishing a poker in an “agitated and aggressive manner”.
Mr Justice Birmingham said that Craven made “sinister threats to Mr Quinn”, including that Craven was in the IRA and that he would “get people up” to do harm to Mr Quinn.
Craven then attacked Mr Quinn, who sustained minor injuries to his elbow and abdomen. However, the impact of the assault on Mr Quinn was significant enough for him to move from his home and also had an impact on his mental health.
Mr Justice Birmingham agreed with the trial judge that Craven’s eight previous convictions – one of which was for assault – were not relevant, as the most recent conviction was for an offence that occurred 21 years before the incident at Mr Quinn’s home.
Mr Justice Birmingham said the trial judge erred in finding that the assault was “of the highest level” and said the appeal court found the five-year headline sentence was “not warranted”.
The judge said the offence was an attack that occurred at someone’s home and that a weapon and threats were involved but that a discount of 25 per cent should have been applied for Craven’s guilty plea.
Mr Justice Birmingham then quashed the previous sentence and re-sentenced Craven to four years’ imprisonment but suspended 21 months, leaving a term of two years and three months to be served.