Stephen’s family express delight with Court of Appeal decision

By Mary Dennehy

THE family of Stephen Hughes Connor have expressed their happiness over the Court of Appeal’s refusal to quash the conviction of the man who caused the death of the 12-year-old boy in 2001.  

Stephen (12) lost his life when a makeshift hut he was sleeping in with a 14-year-old friend at Rossfied Avenue in Tallaght caught fire on September 1, 2001.

stephen final

Stephen Hughes Connor (left). Jason and Jonathan Hughes with Jack Fox at the place of remembrance dedicated to Stephen Hughes, created by the community in 2014

Stephen’s friend managed to escape the blaze however, he tragically lost his life - only days before he was due to start sixth class at St Thomas' National School.

After Stephen’s death in 2001, his family spent 13 years fighting for justice for their loved one.

Following a trial in 2014, a jury found Dermot Griffin (now 57) of Ballyfermot Road, Ballyfermot, guilty of setting the children's makeshift den on fire causing Stephen's death.

Griffin had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court however, after just over six hours of deliberation the jury returned the majority verdict of manslaughter.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The 57-year-old father of four last week moved to appeal his conviction on a number of grounds, including the evidence given by one of the witnesses.

However, the Court of Appeal refused to quash Griffin’s conviction, dismissing his appeal in its entirety.

Speaking with The Echo this week, Stephen’s sister Kelly expressed the family’s happiness with the Court of Appeal’s decision.

“We’re really happy, delighted, with the decision,” Kelly said.

“We really didn’t want him to walk, we spent 13 years fighting for justice.”

Kelly also thanked the community of Tallaght for its support, which included the creation of a garden of remembrance at the spot where Stephen died in Rossfield 17 years ago.

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