Court of Appeal increases sentence over Limerick shooting incident

DPP had claimed original sentence was "unduly leniant"

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Court of appeal increases sentence over Limerick shooting incident

Jason Freyne (pictured last year) has had his sentence increased by the Court of Appeal

A MAN who cycled the streets of Limerick with a sawn-off shotgun, before discharging the firearm at a group of people, has had his prison sentence increased by the Court of Appeal.

Jason Freyne, aged  25, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court last year to possession of a firearm and ammunition at Hyde Road, Limerick on May 9, 2015.

He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half suspended by Judge Tom O'Donnell on May 6, 2016.

Freyne had his prison sentence increased this Monday on foot of an appeal by DPP who argued the original term was too lenient.

Freyne, who has a large number of previous convictions, was resentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment with the final two-and-a-half suspended.

Delivering the judgment, Mr Justice Alan Mahon, presiding, said Freyne had planned and executed an attack on people minding their own business.

Mr Justice Mahon said Freyne had loaded a sawn-off shotgun, placed it in his backpack and cycled the Hyde Road area of the city wearing a bullet-proof vest. Having arrived at a particular location he ran towards the group before discharging the shotgun.

He said the court noted that a man sustained gunshot injuries to the right side of his body and could so easily have resulted in one or more deaths.

There was apparently an ongoing dispute between two families, the judge said.

At the point of arrest, Mr Justice Mahon said Freyne was attempting to remove the shotgun from his backpack. However, there was no suggestion he intended to harm the gardaí, the court heard.

Mr Justice Mahon said Freyne had previous convictions for the unauthorised taking of a vehicle, possession of knives, possession of a stolen article, criminal damage and a number of road traffic offences.

The sentencing judge remarked that he does not often comment on cases but what was “alarming” in this case was that a young man thought it appropriate to be riding around the streets of Limerick with a bullet-proof vest carrying an adapted shotgun.

In contending that Freyne's sentence was “unduly lenient”, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Timothy O'Sullivan BL, submitted that the value of Freyne's guilty plea was reduced because he was faced with coercive evidence.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court was satisfied that the sentence was “unduly lenient” and ought to have been one of at least 10 years.

Although the court viewed the two-and-a-half year suspension as “not warranted”, Mr Justice Mahon said the court would nevertheless and reluctantly apply the same suspended element.

In doing so, the court noted the impressive progress Freyne had been making while in prison and his acknowledgement through his counsel, Anthony Sammon SC, that the feud which lay behind the offence, “as far as he is concerned, is over”.