20 June 2019 No Comments by The Northern Standard

A 27-YEAR-OLD Castleblayney man who caused the death of a popular chef and father of four in an early hours “single-punch” incident was given eight years’ imprisonment when sentence was passed at Cavan Circuit Criminal Court yesterday (Wednesday).

Francis Hughes of 30 Sruth an Iuir, Oram, Castleblayney had admitted that he assaulted 41- year old Graham Tobin at that address at about 6am on the morning of Sunday 7th October of last year — where those attending a party at the house had been watching a Conor McGregor fight broadcast live from Las Vegas.

In passing sentence, Judge John Aylmer said that while this was a case that could be described as a single-punch manslaughter, it was an “exceptionally serious one”. He said the aggravating features included the unprovoked nature of the attack, the severity of the punch that had in itself caused severe fractures to the nose, the dangerous circumstances — in which Mr Tobin had been standing on a step above a patio and was at risk of being knocked backwards onto it — and the fracture that he sustained to the rear of his skull as a result of being knocked onto the concrete.

The judge also noted the accused’s “expression of satisfaction” at having knocked the man out, and the subsequent failure to seek medical attention for Mr Tobin for about four hours, during which the defendant also prevented others from seeking such attention in order to avoid any culpability and person consequences. Judge Aylmer also referred to a suggestion by Hughes at one point that the injured man could be put in the boot of his own car and dumped. Even though no medical evidence was given to show that an earlier intervention might have saved Mr Tobin, the judge said it was safe to assume that the delay did not help, and that this had been stated in evidence from Sergeant John Daly as being the view that a number of doctors had expressed.

It was noted too that the accused had 74 previous convictions, which were for offences including public order, drink driving, road traffic breaches, drugs offences, criminal damage and burglary, with only one having been for an assault. All these aggravating features placed the case on the upper end of the mid-range of seriousness for manslaughter, thereby meriting a 10-year prison term before taking mitigating factors into account. But stating that he was obliged to consider these factors also, Judge Aylmer cited the early guilty plea, notwithstanding his lack of cooperation, his display of concern as to Mr Tobin’s wellbeing at the point where he turned himself in to the gardai, and the defendant’s expressions and letters of remorse and apology.

Mr Hughes had also been making good use of his time in prison to date, was described as a model prisoner and….

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