Northern Ireland news

Co Armagh man jailed for six years for stabbing Dundalk taxi driver

Taxi driver Martin Mulligan was stabbed to death

THE family of a man stabbed to death have said they feel "failed" by the justice system after a judge ruled his killer will be freed in just over four years.

Joseph Hillen (24) of Glendesha Road, Forkhill Co Armagh was convicted last year of the manslaughter of 53-year-old Martin Mulligan at Carnmore, Balriggan, Dundalk, Co Louth on September 28 2015.

At the Dublin's Central Criminal Court yesterday, Ms Justice Eileen Creedon imposed a seven-year sentence with the final year suspended and backdated it to April 2017 for time already served in custody.

She said the taxi driver's death had a profound effect on his family and he was a family man whose loss could never be repaired, but Hillen was entitled to credit for his offer to plead guilty to manslaughter.

The judge also took into account his acceptance of responsibility, the remorse shown, his young age and the fact that he was a moderate risk of re-offending.

Hillen initially denied any knowledge of what happened to Mr Mulligan, but last year he gave a voluntary statement saying he saw Mr Mulligan - who dropped off his last fare at Forkhill at 1.45am - at a plot of land owned by his friend, where there had been trouble with illegal dumping at the site.

He said he thought Mr Mulligan was dumping rubbish from his car and, after a short car chase, followed by "wrestling" when Hillen said the deceased pulled a knife which he "flipped" and "jabbed out" twice in self defence.

The judge was asked to disregard some character references submitted at an earlier hearing, as one may not be genuine.

Outside court, Mr Mulligan's daughter Sharon told RTÉ their father could not defend himself against the allegations made against him.

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