Longford man fails in appeal to reduce sentence for planting bomb on bus during Queen’s visit

A Longford pensioner, who put a bomb on a bus during Queen Elizabeth’s visit here, has lost an appeal against the severity of his eight and-a-half year sentence.

The Court of Appeal said that the only way that it would change the sentence imposed on Dónal Billings, of St Bridget’s Court, Drumlish, County Longford, would be to increase it.

The 70-year-old had already lost an appeal against his conviction for the offence, and for making a number of hoax bomb threats during the State visit.

He was found guilty by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in 2016 of possessing an explosive substance at Longford railway station car park on May 16th, 2011.

He was also convicted of making false reports that bombs had been placed at Busáras, at Sinn Féin’s headquarters in Dublin, and in the toilets at Cork airport, and that two mortars were set for Dublin Castle.

His trial was heard in both Irish and English, as was his appeal today.

Court President Justice George Birmingham opened proceedings by warning that, when dealing with severity of sentence, the powers of the court included increasing as well as reducing sentence and Billings decided to go ahead with his appeal.

His barrister noted that Billings was 70 years old, and informed the court that he had health difficulties.

Justice Birmingham, sitting with Justice Marie Baker and Justice Patrick McCarthy, rose to consider the case before returning to dismiss it.

Justice Birmingham claimed that “This was a lenient, indeed a very lenient sentence and he said that the only live question was whether it was so lenient, that it would be necessary to increase it but decided against that intervention.

Billings was present remotely, attending from Portlaoise Prison, to hear his appeal dismissed.