BY PAUL NEILAN
A THEN-teenager who murdered college student Cameron Blair by plunging a 21cm knife into his neck has appealed his life sentence, arguing that the sentencing judge did not sufficiently take his immaturity and ‘dysfunctional background’ into account.
Three years ago at the Central Criminal Court, the teen pleaded guilty to murdering 20-year-old student Cameron by stabbing him in the neck at a house party on Bandon Rd in Cork city on January 16th, 2020.
This week barrister Karl Finnegan submitted to the three-judge appeal court that while Mr Justice Paul McDermott delivered ‘detailed’ reasons when passing sentence on the then 17-year-old defendant, the judgment took into account the accused’s age more than his maturity or immaturity.
The now 21-year-old appellant, who cannot be named as he was a child at the time of the murder, was sentenced to detention for life by the Central Criminal Court in April 2020 with a review after 13 years.
Mr Finnegan submitted to the court that the sentence imposed on his client was ‘disproportionate and excessive in light of the circumstances of the case and his client’s difficult personal circumstances’.
Mr Finnegan also submitted that the trial judge failed to attach appropriate weight to the mitigating factors, which included his client’s ‘dysfunctional background and family life, his early guilty plea, his youth and immaturity and lack of previous convictions’.
Anne Rowland SC, for the DPP, said the trial judge took ‘significant’ account of mitigating factors in the case.
Ms Rowland said the sentencing judge also noted that the appellant ‘fully understood the nature and likely consequence of what he was doing’.
Ms Rowland noted that the appellant, then aged 17 years and eight months, was at a more advanced developmental stage when he stabbed Mr Blair than someone at a younger stage of around 13-15 years and benefited from being convicted as a child, as opposed to an adult.
President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Birmingham said the court would reserve its judgment and adjourned the case to December 5th.