The mother of a man who shot his sister dead in a tragic accident has begged a judge to let her son out of prison.
Derek Boyd (28) told gardaí that by killing his 34-year-sister through an accidental discharge of a loaded semi-automatic pistol last March, he committed “an unpardonable sin” for which he will pay for the rest of his life.
Boyd pleaded guilty last month to the manslaughter of his sister, Sandra Boyd, at his home in Collins Place, Finglas, Dublin on March 19th this year. He also admitted unlawful possession of a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition.
A large number of the Boyd family, including his mother Teresa Boyd, were present in court at a sentencing hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Monday afternoon.
The court heard that the family had gathered on the night to celebrate Mrs Boyd's birthday and at one point another sister was leaving and the defendant was walking her out to the front door.
Boyd told gardaí that he had armed himself with a gun some weeks before because of threats made to him and his family from a “gangland” figure after Boyd had gone to this man to ask why his teenage nephew had been beaten up.
He said that on the night of the accident he was still afraid of these threats and was secretly holding the gun in his pocket when he walked his sister out. He had cocked the gun to arm it and when he went back inside he took it out when nobody was watching him to disarm it.
He said he was pulling the slide back to eject the bullet in the chamber when his finger slipped and the gun fired. Boyd described an enormous bang and his sister dropped to the ground.
He dropped to her side and began saying “please help her, I'm sorry”. He heard somebody saying, “She is going to be ok, just run” and he left, later telling gardaí he felt ashamed and sorry for leaving her like that.
When gardaí arrived, the victim was still alive and they were told that a gunman had entered the house and shot her and fled. She was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced dead, the bullet having entered her chest and damaged her heart causing massive internal bleeding.
A solicitor for Boyd contacted gardaí the next day to say he was in a psychiatric ward and would provide a statement on discharge. Three days later he was discharged and arrested, presenting to gardaí as “utterly inconsolable”.
He told gardaí he loved his sister and would never intentionally do anything to hurt her. He said he wanted to be punished.
He said he couldn't name who he got the gun from because that would put his family at risk.
Victim impact statement
Reading from her own victim impact report, Mrs Boyd told Judge Pauline Codd that her daughter was a wonderful daughter and sister and always told her siblings how much she loved them. She said the victim had five children who she is now devoting the rest of her life to.
She said the fatal shooting shattered their family and left her son “broken beyond compare”.
“He will relive this nightmare for the rest of his life. He will struggle to live his life. I wish I could turn back time and have all my children be with me.
“I am begging you to please help me rebuild my life and my family and show mercy and send my son home so we can begin to grieve as a family, and help and support each other.
“Please don't take my son away. He’s a good man who made a mistake who will pay for it for the rest of life. Let him come home to his mother and children,” Mrs Boyd said.
She said the tragic accident had left her broken and she had to bury her daughter while also “trying to save my son”. After his mother had finished giving her statement Boyd, who is in custody since his arrest, was allowed to briefly leave the dock and embrace his mother.
The defendant's sister Melissa Clarke told the court that nobody could punish her brother as much as he was punishing himself.
“We couldn't save our sister so we ask today, please help us to save our brother,” she said.
At various points during the emotional 80-minute hearing, the defendant, his mother and members of the family were crying and at one point a relative went to the dock and passed tissues to the defendant.
Detective Sergeant Damien Mangan told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, the defendant told gardaí that in November 2021 he became involved in a row with a “gangland crime” figure over the assault of Boyd's teenage nephew.
This older person became aggressive and blows were exchanged and some time afterwards, associates of this man began threatening the defendant's relatives, Boyd told gardaí.
Boyd moved out of the family home because of the danger to his family and lived in homeless accommodation for a while. He heard that men were still out looking for him and decided to get himself a gun and went on to YouTube to learn how to load and unload it.
The court heard Boyd moved back into the family home when he believed the threat was gone, but three days before the accident, shots were fired into neighbouring houses. Dt Sgt Mangan said this was a case of mistaken identify and that it was believed the Boyd family home was the intended target.
Michael Bowman SC, defending, said this was an exceptional case and he asked Judge Codd to use the court's discretion to reunite his client with his family.
Judge Pauline Codd said she needed time to read the various reports and statements. She adjourned finalisation to December 16th.