24 January 2019 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The family of Carrickmacross fitness instructor Seamus Bell, who died after being the victim of a one-punch assault in the town, have issued a statement saying they have been “left in turmoil” by the outcome of the hearing at Monaghan Circuit Court this week of the manslaughter case arising from the incident.

The family have expressed disappointment with what they perceive as the leniency of the sentence handed down to 35- year-old Lithuanian man Vytautas Racys, with an address at 33 The Oak, Lough na Glack, Carrickmacross, who received a five-year prison term on a guilty plea to the manslaughter charge.

The case was finalised at the sittings of the Circuit Criminal Court in Monaghan on Tuesday, when Judge John Aylmer in passing sentence described the assault as an unprovoked attack and said that the accused had acted with a high degree of recklessness and culpability. Judge Aylmer said that while the case came within the mid-range of manslaughter offences, which merited a seven-year custodial sentence, the court had to take into account the mitigating factors of the accused’s admissions and guilty plea, his expressions of remorse and apology and the time he had already spent in custody, and was reducing the sentence to one of five years on that basis. A full report of the court proceedings is carried on page 13 of this week’s edition. `On Tuesday evening, the Bell family issued a statement of reaction to the court outcome through the Leas Cathaoirleach of the Carrrickmacross/ Castleblayney Municipal District, Councillor Colm Carthy.

The following is the statement in full: “‘We would like to thank the members of the public who have supported our family over the last 12 months since the attack on Seamie. The support we received while Seamie was in hospital and following his sad passing has provided great comfort to us as we continue to deal with the severe loss our family has gone through. “We had hoped that this week’s sentencing would bring some kind of closure to this part of our grief but the outcome has left us in further turmoil. To say we are disappointed with the outcome is an understatement. “The judge in this case sentenced the defendant to five years and gave credit for the time he had already spent in custody; this means he will, more-thanlikely, spend less than two and a half years behind bars for causing the death of Seamie.

“The judge, in his remarks, acknowledged that there was premeditation in the attack on Seamie. Not only did the defendant follow Seamie with a plan to attack him, the judge also acknowledged that the defendant knew that Seamie had his hands in his pockets and could not defend himself from the attack or the subsequent fall which resulted from the blow he received. “The judge also highlighted the fact that the defendant had previous convictions and, because of this, a ‘mid-range’ sentence was merited. “Considering the recognition of these points by the judge the leniency of the sentence is extremely disappointing. Our lives are forever changed because of the actions of the perpetrator; the loss of a partner, son, brother and father will be felt by us for life, we will get no release from our sentence. We do not feel we have received justice for our loss. “We would like to ask the media and public to respect our privacy at this time while we decide what steps our family will take.”

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