Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Taxi driver’s killer has jail sentence increased

A Forkhill man who was convicted of the murder of Dundalk taxi driver Martin Mulligan has had two years added to his original seven-year sentence, which the Court of Appeal has found to be too lenient.

Joseph Hillen (25) of Glendesha Road had admitted killing 55-year-old Mr Mulligan, who was stabbed and left to die at the side of the road, but denied it was murder.

Mr Mulligan’s body was found at Carnmore, on the main Armagh to Dundalk Road in the early hours of September 28th 2015.  He had suffered two stab wounds, one to the abdomen that severed the aorta and another to his right thigh that also severed an artery.

Joseph Hillen from Forkhill has had his jail sentence increased by two years.

Hillen had initially denied any knowledge of the death but ahead of his trial, he admitted stabbing the taxi driver following an altercation at the side of the road.  

In a voluntary statement he claimed he was driving when he saw Mr Mulligan at a plot of land owned by his friend. There had been trouble with illegal dumping at the site and Hillen thought that Mr Mulligan was dumping rubbish from his car.  There was a short car chase followed by a scuffle during which Hillen said the deceased pulled a knife on him. Hillen said he managed to “flip the knife” and while being struck from above he “jabbed out” twice and inflicted the fatal wounds. He claimed he had acted in self-defence.

In October last year, Dublin’s Central Criminal Court convicted Hillen of the manslaughter of the father-of-two and he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with the final year suspended.

Taxi driver Martin Mulligan.

However, the Court of Appeal hearing on Tuesday last determined the sentence to be “unduly lenient” on foot of an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and he was re-sentenced to a nine-year jail term with the final year suspended.

President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham said it was “a desperately serious offence” and Mr Mulligan was treated with “shocking callousness”.

The court suspended the final year in recognition of the “disappointment factor” of having a sentence extended on foot of a DPP appeal.