A teenager from Londonderry has been handed a six-year sentence for the unlawful killing of a man who died from a “catastrophic” neck wound.
The defendant was informed he will spend three years in custody, followed by three years on supervised licence when he is released from Hybebank YOC, after he admitted the manslaughter of 24-year old Gerard Quinn. Also injured in the fatal incident last May was Mr Quinn’s twin brother Michael.
Due to time already spent on remand, he is due to be released within a year.
Handing the teenager a six-year sentence, Mr Justice Treacy said: “This is one case where the genuineness of the remorse is, in my view, beyond question.”
Londonderry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that the the teenager armed himself with a vodka bottle and ran to the aid of his friend, who was involved in a violent melee outside a house in the Millfield Crescent area of Currynieran on the evening of Saturday May 21 last year.
The defendant, who was 16 at the time, was with a group of other teenagers in the house when the Quinn brothers and another man called at the door. One of the youths in the house was confronted outside by Michael, and as the older man was “getting the better” of the youth, his friend ran out of the house armed with a bottle of Glenn’s vodka.
Mr Justice Treacy said he accepted what happened next was “confused”, but said: “Michael Quinn was struck first and his twin brother Gerard was then struck with the broken part of the bottle, causing severe injuries.”
The wound to the 24-year old father of one’s neck - which severed both his jugular vein and his carotid artery - was so catastrophic that despite medics at Altnagelvin Hospital battling for five hours to save his life, he was pronounced dead at 4.22am on Sunday May 22nd, surrounded by his family.
Following the violent confrontation, the youth changed his clothes, before texting his sister and telling her “I have f****d up, please come and get me.” He then handed himself in to police at Strand Road where he was initially charged with attempted murder.
He co-operated fully with police, telling officers that he impulsively grabbed a glass bottle from the house in a bid to scare the older men off. He also said that he acted in fear as he was concerned both for his own safety, and that of his friends.
During Friday’s sentencing, Mr Justice Treacy said: “His reaction had completely disproportionate consequences that were never intended and which he deeply regrets.”
The Judge also revealed: “When he was informed of the death, he was physically sick and struggled to deal with the information.”
Mr Justice Treacy branded the offence as serious, and said that despite this remorse, the teenager took another man’s life. He did, however, said it was accepted he did not intent to either kill or seriously injure the deceased.
Passing sentence, the Judge said: “He has accepted responsibility for the unlawful killing of Gerard Quinn, who suffered a catastrophic injury to his neck, caused by a broken bottle wielded by the defendant. The court must therefore impose a substantial custodial sentence.”
He was handed a six-year sentence for manslaughter, with a concurrent four-year sentence imposed for wounding Michael Quinn.
Detective Chief Inspector Michael Harvey, said: “Gerard was not only a beloved son, he was a brother and he was a father to his three-year-old daughter. Gerard was only 24 years old when he was denied a future with his family.
“We hope today’s sentence will go some way to bringing closure to the family, who still face a lifetime without their loved one - in many ways, a life sentence.”
“I also hope today’s sentence acts as a deterent for those who engage in violence. The consequences are plain to see.
Paying tribute to the dignity displayed by the grieving Quinn family, DCI Harvey also thanked all those who helped to save Gerard’s life - both at the scene and the medics at Altnagelvin Hospital.
He said: “I would like to thank those members of the public who came forward and provided First Aid to Gerard, and those members of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, paramedics and police officers who undoubtedly attended a traumatic scene. I would also like to thank the nurses and doctors who fought to save Gerard.”