Belfast Telegraph

Uproar as brothers who killed their uncle Seamus Holland are jailed

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

There was uproar in a court yesterday after two brothers were jailed for killing their uncle, with the family of the victim branding the sentences "a disgrace".

Gerard (31) and Daniel Gaskin (22) were jailed for the manslaughter of Seamus Holland (55) three years ago this month.

They had always admitted attacking their uncle in his Upton Park home in west Belfast, claiming it was in revenge for him raping and sexually abusing their mother, Mr Holland's sister, when they were both children. But they denied his murder.

Mr Holland was kicked, punched and beaten with a bar.

Gerard Gaskin – jailed in the past for killing a father-of-one – was yesterday handed a minimum sentence of four-and-a-half years at Belfast Crown Court, while his brother Daniel got three years.

Both sentences will be less any time the brothers spent on remand awaiting trial.

Relatives of the dead man shouted abuse from the public gallery at the brothers, both from Gortnamona Way, as they were led away by prison staff.

Speaking on behalf of the family outside court, Mr Holland's neice Annmarie McCann described the sentences as "a disgrace".

"We just can't believe it. It's an injustice, that is what it is," she said.

"We will have to live with this for the rest of our lives. They did not get enough time for taking Seamus' life. Taking a life should mean life," said Ms McCann.

This was the third time the two west Belfast brothers' had stood trial.

The others had to be abandoned for legal reasons.

In June a jury cleared them of murder, but unanimously convicted them of manslaughter on the basis of provocation.

Sentencing yesterday, Mr Justice Maguire said: "While the court accepts that the treatment of the defendants' mother by Mr Holland, if true, was reprehensible and that each of the defendants to a degree may have mulled over the allegation in their minds and have been disturbed by it, this of course would not justify each of their decisions to give Mr Holland a beating."

He added: "It is probable that without his brother's invitation, Daniel would not have got involved in this incident at all."

The judge said Daniel Gaskin knew "of the vulnerable state" of his uncle, "attacked him in his own home", and helped "to repel" those attempting to intervene.

Mr Justice Maguire said Gerard Gaskin had played "a central role in instigating the attack" on his uncle, and that his criminal record was far worse than Daniel's.

It had been Gerard Gaskin, said the judge, who brought, used and disposed of the iron bar. In 1999, Gerard Gaskin was jailed for three years for killing 28-year-old Patrick Hanna. The judge said he had run him over in a stolen car while driving at speed.

The judge said the mitigating factors in the Holland attack were relatively few. But he took into account the revelation during the trial that Gerard had been the subject of sexual abuse as a child and his impairment of mental responsibility.

BACKGROUND

Daniel Gaskin was told he will be released after serving his three-year jail term for the manslaughter of his uncle Seamus Holland, minus any time spent on remand awaiting trial. Gerard Gaskin was told that after he serves a minimum of four-and-a-half years, again less time on remand, he will only be released after the Parole Commissioners deem it safe for the public.

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