Finn Colclough will get out of jail two years sooner than he was expecting after today. He had appealed his ten year sentence for the manslaughter of Sean Nolan just before Christmas. Today he learned he had been successful. The three judge Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that Judge Paul Carney should have taken into the account that Finn would have willingly pleaded guilty to manslaughter when deciding on sentence.
Out of all the trials I’ve covered in my time down in the Criminal Courts the Colclough trial was one of the most tragic. Finn had been celebrating the end of the school term, out with his family for a 21st birthday part. He was only 17.
Sean Nolan was celebrating the end of secondary school. out with friends. He was searching for a girl he knew Sara, in the Waterloo Road area of Dublin 4 when he bumped into Finn and 2 friends. It was around 4 in the morning.
There was a misunderstanding, Sean and his friends were looking for a corkscrew to open the bottle of wine they had bought on the way. Finn and his friends got scared when the older boys shouted from the road in their quest.
Finn came running out with 2 knives. Sean stepped forward. They struggled. Sean was fatally stabbed. It was a case of almost breathtaking tragedy. One that had no sense to it, no logic.
I’ve written at length on the case here in the past so I’m not going to revisit now. I will say that in light of other manslaughter sentences Finn Colclough’s was on the long side. The fact that ten years doesn’t seem long for taking someone’s like doesn’t come into it, these are the sentences the court hands down for manslaughter. I’m not surprised that the CCA decided as they did and I shall be interested to read their ruling at a later date.
Speaking outside the new courthouse today Sean’s mother Charlotte Nolan said that she was happy the legal process was over and that the ten year sentence still stood.
She also called for urgent changes in legislation to tackle what she referred to as the “epidemic of knife crime”. She’s not alone in this. I’ve heard several judges including Paul Carney speak out about the prevalence of knife crime primarily among the young men in our society. It’s a subject that we will hear of again, probably the next time a young life is tragically lost after a night of drinking. You may hear about, you may not. Unfortunately there are so many cases like that going through the courts and not all of them have the handy hook of an exclusive address.