The fatal stabbing of a father of two has “left behind a river of agony and tears” and children who will never again have the company of their father, a judge has said.
Andrew Lacey was acquitted of murder but convicted of Derek Reddin’s manslaughter in Loughlintown, Co Dublin in 2019 following a Central Criminal Court trial that ended earlier this month.
The trial heard there was a “feud” between associates of the accused and deceased, and that Mr Reddin “lay in wait” for Lacey after he left his local pub on the night in question.
At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, Det Garda Stephen Ryan agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, for Lacey, that the feud had nothing to do with organised crime or drugs, but was “a series of fights” after two families had a falling out due to a “drunken” row.
Det Garda Ryan further agreed that the deceased was “there to attack” Lacey on the night that he was fatally injured.
Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring will sentence Lacey on Friday and said she would have to consider statements submitted to the court on behalf of the accused and deceased. She said she considers Lacey’s production and use of a knife during the fight to be a “substantial aggravating factor”.
She said she would consider the impact on Mr Reddin’s family, including his two sons. “I am also conscious that Mr Lacey’s children have been and will be affected by the loss of him in their lives, albeit not permanently as for Mr Reddin’s children.”
The killing had “left behind a river of agony and tears and children who will never again have the company of their father,” she added.
In a statement read out by prosecution counsel Róisín Lacey SC, Mr Reddin’s mother Noleen said Derek was her only son.
“I still do not believe this has happened, words cannot express what I would do for one more moment with him,” she said.
Lacey (35) of Riverside, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Reddin (31) at Loughlinstown Drive between October 14th and 15th, 2019. A 10-person jury cleared him of the murder charge but found him guilty of manslaughter.
Ms Lacey said that the maximum penalty for manslaughter is life imprisonment but Lacey’s culpability in this case falls in the middle range and would attract a sentence of between four and 10 years.
Mr McGinn said his client’s moral culpability is at the low end of that middle bracket because he was attacked and believed that the production of the knife was justified to defend himself. Counsel said it was “perhaps unfortunate he had a knife on him” but he reminded the judge that Lacey used the knife for work and had inadvertently brought it with him that night.
Lacey has no previous relevant convictions and has worked since the age of 18 as a general operative in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council parks department, counsel said.
Mr McGinn handed in letters from Lacey’s five children, his wife, parents, grandparents, community members and work colleagues which he said “all speak in glowing terms of his character and how this offence is not in keeping with his everyday life”.
Lacey himself wrote a letter which Mr McGinn said contains a “heartfelt apology” to the Reddin family.
During the trial, Lacey took the stand and told the jury he was walking home with a bag of food from the local takeaway when Mr Reddin ran across the road and attacked him with a baseball bat. He described a scuffle in which Mr Reddin dropped the bat as they fell to the ground.
Lacey said he got up and took a knife from his pocket hoping to “repel” Mr Reddin or make him run away. However, he said Mr Reddin retrieved the bat and lunged at him again. He said they scuffled and again fell to the ground and that he did not realise he had stabbed Mr Reddin. Lacey said that following their scuffle, Mr Reddin attacked his friend with the bat but then fell to the ground and did not move again.
A pathologist told the trial that Reddin died from a stab wound that penetrated his lung and heart.
Gardaí searched the area but did not find a baseball bat. However, the defence pointed to the evidence of two local residents, who said they heard something metal striking an object or rolling on the ground. Mr McGinn described as “ludicrous” the suggestion that there was no baseball bat at the scene.