Northern Ireland news

Family unhappy at five-year jail term for manslaughter of Co Armagh man

Seamus Bell who died six months after being assaulted in Co Monaghan

THE family of a father-of-three, who died following an unprovoked attack in Carrickmacross last year, have said they are unhappy with the five-year jail term handed down to his killer.

Vytautas Racys, originally from Lithuania with an address at The Oak, Loughnaglack, Carrickmacross, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Co Armagh man Seamus Bell following an incident on Main Street in the Co Monaghan town in January last year.

Mr Bell (35), a well-known sports instructor who was active in GAA circles in Monaghan and in his native Armagh, was celebrating the christening of his four-month-old twin daughters Ava and Cara on the day of the attack.

The victim had been followed in the street for at least five metres before Racys struck him.

The judge noted Mr Bell's hands were in his pockets at the time, leaving him helpless to protect himself.

Following the assault, he was in a coma in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin for six months before he passed away in June last year.

Sentencing Racys for manslaughter, Judge John Aylmer said the matter was in the "mid range" and merited a seven-year custodial sentence.

However, he said he had to take mitigating factors into account including admissions and a guilty plea, his cooperation and expressions of remorse and the apology he had given in court.

The judge said he was reducing the sentence to five years on that basis, also giving Racys credit for the time he had already spent in custody.

Members of Mr Bell's family, including his father, sisters and brother, gave victim impact statements to the court. His partner, Edel Tighe, spoke of how they had their whole lives to look forward to and had been so happy at the christening of their twin daughters.

Following the sentencing, the family said they were unhappy and did not believe justice had been done.

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