Friday 21 October 2016

'I wouldn't accept his apology under any circumstances' - Dean Fitzpatrick's dad reacts to sentence for Dave Mahon

David Mahon jailed for seven years for killing stepson Dean Fitzpatrick

Eimear Cotter and Conor Feehan

Published 13/06/2016 | 11:18

Audrey Mahon leaving court today (Inset: David Mahon and inset below: Dean Fitzpatrick)
Audrey Mahon leaving court today (Inset: David Mahon and inset below: Dean Fitzpatrick)

A FORMER Spanish-based property owner who knifed his stepson to death has been jailed for seven years.

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David Mahon (45) was found guilty of the manslaughter of his stepson Dean Fitzpatrick by a jury at the Central Criminal Court last month.

Mahon had denied murdering Mr Fitzpatrick on May 26, 2013, a day after the deceased interfered with his bicycle to annoy him.

He had claimed that father-of-one Mr Fitzpatrick walked into the knife he was holding and his death was an accident.

Dean Fitzpatrick
Dean Fitzpatrick

His legal team argued that Mahon's account of what happened was not contradicted by the scientific evidence.

However, it was the prosecution case that Mahon was drunk, angry and agitated and he stabbed his stepson, before fleeing the scene and leaving him to die on the street.

Dave Mahon's father Michael and Mahon's wife Audrey leave court Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Dave Mahon's father Michael and Mahon's wife Audrey leave court Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dean Fitzpatrick was the older brother of teenager Amy Fitzpatrick who went missing in Spain in 2008.

The 23-year-old received a single stab wound to the stomach outside the apartment his mother Audrey shared with Mahon at Burnell Square, Northern Cross in Malahide.

“I just thought it would have been a longer sentence than what he got. Dean was a nice young man only growing up, he was a young man when he died, far too young to die," his father Christopher Fitzpatrick said outside the court.

“Things have been very hard. This will help a bit. I just feel the sentence could have been longer but that’s the way the system seems to work here.

Dave Mahon and Audrey Fitzpatrick
Dave Mahon and Audrey Fitzpatrick

“We are relieved that this process is over as it has been a long road to get here. Today has given us some closure but we still have a long road ahead of us in the search for Amy."

He added he would never accept the apology offered by Mahon in court. “I wouldn’t accept his apology under any circumstances. He done what he done. We know what he done, and everybody is aware of what he done,” he said.

Dean's aunt Christine Kenny thanked their family, friends, Coolock garda station, their legal team and the victim’s support group at the Central Criminal Court.

"Dean’s death has been a huge loss to our lives and we will never forgive the man that killed Dean. He has put us through hell and back.

“We have some hope now for Amy with this person coming forward in this other case (Philip Cairns). We hope that people will come forward now and give the information that's needed as regards Amy. She needs to be found and we still have that road ahead of us and we will keep fighting for her. It (latest developments in Cairns case) has given us hope. There’s always hope,” she added.

“We will fight to the bitter end to get truth for Amy. Hopefully somebody will come forward now with information of where Amy was that night and pleased God we find her,” she said.

“Dean's death has affected us terribly, there's no words can explain what this killing has done to our family. Our lives were turned upside down, Christopher’s life was turned upside down completely. His children, it's absolutely devastating looking at my brother and Dean’s child and his girlfriend Sarah, seeing how it is affecting them so badly. Justice was served butt not as we would have liked it,” she explained.

Talking about Dean’s young son Leon, Christine said the death had affected him badly. “Sarah brings him up to the grave regularly. It’s sad looking at a little boy with no daddy there to see him go to school, he’ll be starting school this year, and getting his graduation next week from play school. But he misses his daddy,” she said.

Christine said she didn't think Mahon was remorseful. “I don't know how would he feel if somebody went out to his son and put a knife through him that went into his spine and ridged it. It was absolutely devastating. We know what it is to lose children,” she said, adding that neither she nor Christopher had a relationship with Dave Mahon. “I knew of him, but I never knew him,” she said.

 Asked what she thought would be a suitable sentence for Mahon. Christine Kenny said: “A life for a life”.

“I know that sound bad but that’s the way I feel about it. He was a young man of 24. He had a little boy. He had a partner and a father,” she explained.

Christopher said he felt the same way, adding that Leon is keeping him going, as well as a son he has from another relationship.

In May, a jury of six men and six women took eight hours and 16 minutes to reach a verdict that Mahon was not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan said the facts of this case were "very distressing", and she did not propose to go through them again.

Ms Justice Heneghan said the defendant had offered a plea of guilty of manslaughter prior to the trial, but this plea had been rejected by the DPP, and she said she must take this into account when sentencing.

She said that Mr Mahon had also apologised, through his barrister, to all those who knew Mr Fitzpatrick, and had indicated he would not be appealing the verdict.

Ms Justice Heneghan imposed a seven year sentence.

During an earlier sentence hearing, defence barrister Sean Guerin SC said he had been instructed by his client to apologise to all those who knew Mr Fitzpatrick.

Victim impact statements from Dean's dad Christopher Fitzpatrick, his mother, Audrey Mahon, his girlfriend Sarah O'Rourke and his four-year-old son Leon were also previously read to the court.

Audrey Mahon said her life had become a living nightmare since Dean's death, and although he had his problems she recalled his "cheeky grin" and "heart of gold".

In her victim impact statement, she said she had lost both her children and did not think she was strong enough to cope with losing her husband.

Mrs Mahon said David had also lost everything, and he had done everything in his power to find Amy.

She could not disagree with the jury's decision, she said, because David Mahon had produced a knife unlawfully.

Mrs Mahon further said she has "forgiven Dave but has not forgotten" what happened, adding that Mahon will "always be my husband, carer and my best friend".

Dean's dad, Christopher Fitzpatrick, said Dean's death has taken its toll on him, and he had been hospitalised due to stress.

Mr Fitzpatrick also said Audrey Mahon had tried to exclude him from Dean's funeral and he had been forced to go to the High Court so his son could be buried in his own plot.

He said he hoped Amy would eventually be found alive but he could have no such hope for his son.

He also said there were no words to describe his "pain, anger and despair".

Mr Fitzpatrick said that all he now has of Dean is "visits to his resting place".

The deceased's partner Sarah O'Rourke said the couple had their "ups and downs" but she "loved him as he loved me".

She said she and Dean were so proud and happy when they had their beautiful son, Leon.

Ms O'Rourke said she has found it hard to cope since Dean died, and she still can't fully accept that he is not going to see his son growing up.

She said their son often picks up Dean's picture and asks "where's my daddy".

Ms O'Rourke said she tells her son that Dean is "a star in the sky" and "angels took him to heaven".

During the two week trial, the Central Criminal Court heard evidence from Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, who said Mr Fitzpatrick bled to death as a result of a single stab wound to the stomach.

Dr Curtis said the wound was inflicted with moderate or considerable force. His examination could not tell if the wound was inflicted with a deliberate thrust of the knife or if Mr Fitzpatrick had "run on" to a knife being held by someone else.

The court heard that by 2013, Mr Fitzpatrick was in a relationship with Sarah O'Rourke and they had a two-year-old son. He had mental health difficulties and also had a difficult relationship with Mahon.

Both men were members of the Northwood Gym in Santry and Mahon’s bicycle was interfered with outside the gym on May 24 that year, the court heard.

CCTV footage suggested it was the deceased who had done so, taking a water bottle off it.

The jury was told Mahon was annoyed and sought to have his stepson barred from the gym.

He also spent much of the following day "frenetically" trying to contact the deceased. Witnesses said he was not in a good mood and had been drinking heavily.

The jury also heard from taxi driver, Karl O’Toole, who was in Mahon’s apartment when Mr Fitzpatrick arrived.

He said Mahon accused Mr Fitzpatrick of robbing a water bottle off his bike, and Dean admitted he’d done it to annoy him.

Dean said he’d return the bottle the next day and he left.

Mr O’Toole said Mahon followed him out of the apartment and when he came back he was holding a knife.

He said Mahon was "very agitated" and said: "You've have to get me out of here. I have to go".

Mr O'Toole said they got into his taxi and he was "just driving".

Mr O'Toole said Mahon then told him he thinks "Dean is dead" and "the knife went through him".

He advised him to go to the gardai but "Dave was not really making any sense at all".

The pair then drove to Mahon's father, Mick's house. Mr O'Toole said Mahon told his dad "Dean came at him with a knife and he ended up being stabbed".

The court heard that gardai conducted five interviews with Mahon.

During the interviews, he told gardai Mr Fitzpatrick had called up to his apartment and the pair were arguing.

He said Mr Fitzpatrick pulled a knife on him in the kitchen, but he took it off him and put it in his back pocket.

He said his friend John McCormack took Dean out of his apartment, and he followed them.

Mahon claimed he pulled the knife from his pocket and said to Dean, “why are you pulling a knife on your auld fella".

He said Mr Fitzpatrick walked into the knife, and he knew he had nicked him, but Dean ran off and he "didn't think it was that serious".

He told gardai "I didn't stab him, he walked into the knife".

The next thing Mahon remembered was being in a taxi with his friend Karl O'Toole and throwing the knife out the window.

Asked why he threw away the knife, he told gardai "don't ask me, I don't know why".

In his closing argument to the jury, prosecution counsel, Remy Farrell SC, told the jury Mahon “cooked up” a story for gardai, telling them the “farcical story” that Mr Fitzpatrick had “walked into the knife”.

He said the reality was that Mahon stabbed his stepson and then set about doing everything he could to “get away with” it.

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