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DUNDALK MAN Michael Dermot McArdle has been sentenced by a Spanish judge to two years in jail for his wife's manslaughter.
The judge will have the power to suspend the sentence at a later date but no decision has been taken yet.
In imposing the two-year term, Judge Fernando González also ordered McArdle to pay compensation of €100,000 to the parents of Kelly-Anne Corcoran and a further €60,000 to each of the couple's two sons, one of whom was called as a witness during the trial.
McArdle (39) was convicted by a jury in Malaga last week of causing the death of his wife Kelly-Anne during a hotel-room argument on February 11th, 2000, on the first day of a family holiday in Marbella on the Costa del Sol.
Last night the victim's family said they were digesting the written documents.
Peter Moran, the brother-in-law of Ms Corcoran, said they were going through paperwork and considering the verdict. He said they may decide to respond to the verdict next week.
Court sources said yesterday that the sentence, which is less than the four years requested by the private prosecutor hired by the Corcoran family and the three years called for by the state prosecutor, is likely to be suspended given that McArdle has no previous convictions in Spain.
However, no decision will be taken on a suspension until the sentence is confirmed, which could take as little as 10 days if McArdle does not lodge an appeal.
However, if one is lodged - which The Irish Times understands is a strong possibility - a custodial sentence would not be enforced until the appeal is resolved, which could take several years if it reaches Spain's Supreme Court. McArdle would remain free until then.
In imposing the two-year prison term, Judge Fernando González also ordered McArdle to pay compensation of €100,000 to the parents of Kelly-Anne and €60,000 to each of the couple's two sons, one of whom was controversially called as a witness during the trial.
Judge Fernando Zubieta decided to allow the couple's 11-year- old son, who was a toddler at the time of his mother's death eight years ago, to testify.
Proceedings had to be interrupted for half an hour when the boy collapsed within minutes of taking the stand.
The judge decided to make no award to the dead woman's brothers and sisters, who had applied for €50,000 each in compensation.
They were expected to put any cash award towards a children's charity or anti-domestic violence charity.
In a separate decision accompanying yesterday's sentence, the judge turned down the prosecution's petition for McArdle to be remanded in jail as a precautionary measure and in view of the trial jury's unanimous recommendation that any sentence imposed should not be suspended.
The judge said he did not believe there was a "risk of flight" and had taken into account the fact that McArdle had complied with the obligations imposed by the court before and during his trial.
McArdle's defence lawyer Luis Casaubon, who had asked for the minimum sentence of one year for manslaughter following the verdict on October 7th, said last night he would be looking at the terms of the sentence very carefully in the coming days with his client.
Mr Casaubon, who insisted his client was "not a criminal", said they would then decide whether or not to appeal.
It is also possible that the Corcoran family and the state prosecutor will lodge their own appeals against the two-year sentence, given the likelihood that it may be suspended.
© 2008 The Irish Times

INSPECTOR'S NOTE: I guess we have noting to complain about about some of the sentences handed down by our judges.
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