The teenager charged with murdering Melanie McCarthy McNamara was a protected prisoner when he allegedly wrote a letter containing the phrase: ‘Two in the head. The bitch is dead’.
Daniel McDonnell’s murder trial heard that he had cell to himself and no contact with other prisoners for his own protection when detained in St Patrick’s Institution on suspicion of the murder. It also heard that he would have known his post would be read.
Mr McDonnell (19) of Brookview Lawns in Tallaght has pleaded not guilty to murdering 16-year-old Melanie on February 8th 2012 at nearby Brookview Way. She was shot in the head as she sat in a car with her boyfriend and his friend.
Prison officer Richard Pielow testified yesterday (Tuesday) that on March 3, 2012, the accused was housed in Cell 17 on St Patrick’s Institution’s B3 landing, which was used to accommodate 16 and 17-year-olds.
“He was a protected prisoner. He had no contact with other prisoners,” he said.
He told the Central Criminal Court that the accused gave him two letters to post that day.
“Both letters were unsealed,” he said, adding that this was in accordance with prison policy.
“I put them in my pocket. When the landing was locked down, at approximately 4.30, I would have read them in the class office. It’s routine procedure,” he continued.
He said that he then passed the letters onto his superior officer, Tony Redmond.
Under cross examination by Patrick Marrinan SC, defending, he agreed that prisoners were advised on admission that their incoming and outgoing correspondence would be read.
He agreed that prisoners had to leave envelopes open so that prison officers could read and censor their contents.
The jury was given copies of the letters, before they were read aloud by Assistant Chief Officer Tony Redmond. He first read a letter addressed to Lee McDonnell:
“Keep running all them up to protection because this war ain’t stopping. Take my word for it. Close-range head shots. That’s what I’m going for. If I get High Court bail, I swear on my family, them four will be in the ground.
“I ran CM with his head up his arse.
“Two in the head. The bitch is dead. Ha ha.
“The silly mother f***er pulled out a hammer. Little did he know I had a loaded 12-guage. Left his bitch all over the Sunday World front page.
“I’ll never forget that mug roaring. Ha ha. Best night of my poxy life.
“Keep your head up for me. We’ll make a few plans to clear them out. F**k the fallout. Soon enough we’ll be running Tallaght. Bunch of bitches up there. Show them the McDs run the show. No-one else.
“McDonnell boys running the kip. Go on.”
Officer Redmond then read the letter addressed to Stephanie Tuite:
“I f**ked everything up. I never thought it would turn out like this. I don’t know how I’m still going out with you. It’s ripping me apart. I feel like a scum bag. I don’t feel like it. I am one.
“I don’t know what got into my head. My brain must be the size of a pea.
“That weed sh*t f**ked me up and those Jack and Jills.
“Sitting in my cell. I’m on 23-hour lock-up so there’s no drugs at all in my system.
“The Mac will be back with a whack.
“One more thing. That other thing wouldn’t have happened if I’d known she was in the car. It was meant for that other smell bag.
“He won’t get away with bullying my Ma.
“What goes around f**kin comes around.
“B3 for life. F**k it. Life goes on. Stay safe please.
“I’ll never forget him roaring like a girl crying. Bang bang.
“I’m the only one who stuck it back up to them. Remember that."
Officer Redmond said he decided the letters were not to be dispatched and he passed them onto his superior.
He agreed with Mr Marrinan that their significance was immediately apparent to him.
“Everyone knew he’d been accused of the atrocious murder of Melanie McCarthy McNamara,” suggested Mr Marrinan.
“Correct,” replied Officer Redmond.
He also agreed that Daniel McDonnell was in a single cell for his own protection.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney and the jury of six men and six women will return to court on Tuesday.