Tuesday 6 December 2016

10 things we learned from shocking documentary 'Ireland's Teen Killers'

Published 30/05/2016 | 22:00

Ireland's Teen Killers on TV3 - Daniel McDonnell was 17 when he killed Melenie McCarthy McNamara (murder)
Ireland's Teen Killers on TV3 - Daniel McDonnell was 17 when he killed Melenie McCarthy McNamara (murder)

While the murder rate in Ireland has climbed over recent decades, this still remains one of the safest countries in the world. A genuinely shocking development, though, has been the rise in adolescent killers.

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Last night's one-off TV3 documentary Teen Killers looked at four of the most disturbing. Here are ten things we learned:

1.  Prevalence

Sixteen Irish teenagers have been convicted of unlawful killing since 2000. Criminologist John O’Keeffe here highlighted the increasingly “adult nature of teen crime in Ireland today”.

Ireland's Teen Killers - John O'Keeffe, Criminologist.jpg

John O'Keefe, criminologist

2.  Victims

Some of those were eventually convicted of manslaughter, some of murder. Many of their victims were also adolescents, or in the case of Michaela Davis, a child of just 12.

Ireland's Teen Killers - VICTIM - Michaela Davis.jpg

Victim Michaela Davis

3.  It's not limited to Dublin

This phenomenon is spread around the country, and not limited to Dublin. Darren Goodwin killed classmate Darragh Conroy in Mountmellick, Co Laois in 2003; the notorious Limerick feud saw Richard Treacy, Shane Kelly, Joseph Keane beat fellow teen Darren Coughlan to death two years later.

Ireland's Teen Killers - Darren Goodwin 2.jpg

Darren Goodwin

4. Innocent people get caught in the crossfire

Daniel McDonnell was only 17 when he shot Melanie McCarthy McNamara – one year younger – in Tallaght in 2012, in a case of mistaken identity. He was aiming for her boyfriend Christy Moran, then 21. McDonnell had been involved in serious crime since he was just 14, and already had numerous convictions.

Ireland's Teen Killers - VICTIM Melanie McCarthy McNamara (2).jpg

Victim Melanie McCarthy McNamara

5. Some murderers are proud of their act

McDonnell wrote letters from prison to his brother and girlfriend, bragging about the killing: “two in the head, the bitch is dead”. These, and cell-wall graffiti, were the only evidence against him. Experts reckoned he simply didn’t care about incriminating himself – this wannabe gangster had “made his mark”.

Ireland's Teen Killers - Daniel McDonnell.jpg

Daniel McDonnell

6. Gang culture

A feral street gang caused the deaths of Polish men Pawel Kalite and Marius Szwajkos, in an incredibly brutal 2011 attack. David Curran, then 17, was convicted of the double murder. His pal Sean Keogh was found guilty of assault causing harm. Interestingly, two girls and a boy who were also members of the gang had no charges brought against them.

Ireland's Teen Killers - David Curran.jpg

David Curran

7. Sometimes it's personal

Unlike those two, the murder of Michaela Davis was more personal. Eighteen-year-old Jonathan Byrne raped, beat and strangled the girl in Clonsilla, Dublin in 2010. She had just finished her first day of secondary school. Byrne tried to pin the blame on another boy Michaela had known.

Ireland's Teen Killers - Jonathan Byrne.jpg

Jonathan Byrne

8. Sentences may be shorter than you think

Darren Goodwin, then aged 15, killed 14-year-old Darragh Conroy with a metal hammer he'd taken from school. He had earlier told his classmates he would “would love to kill someone that nobody cares about, someone like Darragh Conroy.” Goodwin is due to be released this July.

9.  Reasons

The reasons why teens kill are manifold. Former Governor of Mountjoy John Lonergan blames “drug culture” and “social disconnection”.

Ireland's Teen Killers - John Lonergan 3.jpg

John Lonergan

10. Risk factors

According to psychologist Dr David Carey, the “risk factors for becoming a homicidal teen” mostly involve a history of violence in early life, abuse or severe neglect, extreme disruption in their environment and – the reason, I suppose, why most people don’t murder another, regardless of their upbringing – an inability to regulate their own behaviour.

Ireland's Teen Killers - Dr David Carey, Psychologist.jpg

Dr David Carey

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