Monday 24 October 2016

'Talented musician' handed himself into gardaí after seeing his video on CrimeCall

Fiona Ferguson

Published 14/10/2016 | 20:49

Keelin Shanley on RTÉ Crimecall
Keelin Shanley on RTÉ Crimecall

A “talented musician” who handed himself into gardai after his assault on a Croatian man was featured on RTE's CrimeCall will be sentenced early next year.

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Bernard McDonagh (30) punched the man who was knocked unconscious and fell to the ground landing face first. He broke his jaw in two places and suffered damage to several teeth.

McDonagh, of Barn Lodge, Cappogue, Finglas, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Dame Lane in the city centre on June 17, 2015. He has 19 previous convictions, mainly for public order offences.

Judge Melanie Greally said, after reading a psychologists report, that McDonagh had to start making meaningful efforts to address his issues with alcohol. She said the courts had been lenient with McDonagh in the past and it had little effect on his behaviour.

She adjourned the case until March 27, 2017 to give time for a probation report be completed and to allow McDonagh gather further compensation for his victim who requires costly dental surgery.

Garda Noeleen Byrne told Joseph Barnes BL, prosecuting, that just after midnight the victim was walking down Dame Lane and stopped to talk to a group of people which included McDonagh.

As he was talking, McDonagh came from his left side and hit him with his fist in a swinging punch. The man was knocked unconscious and was unable to save himself from falling to the ground.

McDonagh ran from the scene. A passer-by administered first aid and called an ambulance.

The victim had no recollection of the assault and thought he may have been knocked down. He later reported the matter to gardai and said he had a vague memory of being on Dame Lane.

Gardaí recovered CCTV which showed the assault taking place and it was shown on RTE's CrimeCall with a view to identifying the perpetrator.

Gda Byrne said she received a call from a solicitor the following day to say McDonagh wished to hand himself him. He went to Pearse Street garda station and made full admissions.

The victim had his jaw wired shut for several weeks and requires dental surgery on his teeth. He had only been in Ireland a number of weeks before the assault and has since returned to Croatia.

Gda Byrne agreed with Kenneth Kerins BL, defending, that McDonagh had been apologetic. The district court judge refused jurisdiction and he came forward to the Circuit Court on a signed plea of guilty.

Mr Kerins handed in psychologists report and number of testimonials on his client's behalf.

He said McDonagh was a talented musician and a caring father who brought his children to school each day. One of his children had a hearing impairment and as a result McDonagh and his wife had learned sign language. He said his client had €500 in court as a gesture of remorse.

Counsel said there was no rational explanation for what had happened, describing it as a “Jekyll and Hyde incident.”

He said McDonagh engaged in his community and public life in a real and meaningful way and it was hard to reconcile what had happened to the man described in the testimonials.

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