Teen gets life after cell graffiti pointed to his guilt in girl's murder
Published 25/01/2014 | 02:30
A TEENAGER who daubed incriminating graffiti on his cell wall has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of murdering 16-year-old Melanie McCarthy McNamara.
Melanie was shot in the head as she sat in a car with her boyfriend and his friend in Tallaght, Dublin, two years ago.
Daniel McDonnell (19), of Brookview Lawns in Tallaght, had pleaded not guilty to her murder on February 8, 2012, at nearby Brookview Way.
However, a jury of six men and six women yesterday reached a unanimous verdict of guilty, after a seven-day trial at the Central Criminal Court.
Melanie's godmother, Jennifer Roche, gave an emotional victim impact statement on behalf of the teenager's family. Melanie's parents, Stephen McCarthy and Melissa McNamara, were not in court.
"Our Melanie was a girl who loved life and never got a chance to live it," she said. "They should have taken us too.
"She was her mother's best friend ... Melissa feels if she died tomorrow, it would not be too soon," she continued. "She was every mother's dream daughter. She was Melissa's life, her world, her everything."
Melanie's last words to her mother were: "Bye Mummy, I'll be in early in the morning."
The trial heard that a stolen black Hyundai Santa Fe had pulled up alongside the car in which Melanie was sitting in the back seat. A shot was discharged from the Hyundai and Melanie was hit in the head.
Her boyfriend, Christopher Moran, and his friend, Sean Byrne, rushed her to hospital.
However, she died a short time later due to the shotgun wound to her left temple.
The Hyundai was found abandoned in Citywest shortly after the shooting. The stolen sawn-off shotgun and two discharged cartridges were recovered nearby. There were no fingerprints on the vehicle, weapon or cartridges.
McDonnell was one of two men arrested on suspicion of the murder the following week. He was detained at Tallaght Garda Station and made no comment.
Instead, he daubed incriminating graffiti on his cell wall. This included: "2 in the head. The bitch is dead ha ha ... Moran scummy nacker ... Moran scum."
The State said that 'Moran' was a reference to Melanie's boyfriend, a settled Traveller.
A few weeks later, while detained in St Patrick's Institution, McDonnell continued to brag about the murder, this time in two letters.
He handed the letters to a prison officer for posting, knowing that they would be read in accordance with protocol. Staff passed the letters to gardai.
The first one, addressed to Lee McDonnell, included the lines: "Close-range head shots. That's what I'm going for ... Left his bitch all over the 'Sunday World' front page."
In the second letter, to ex-girlfriend Stephanie Tuite, he wrote: "It was meant for that other smell bag. He won't get away with bullying my Ma."
McDonnell's barrister had described his client's writings as "rants to his friend and girlfriend".
However, the prosecution said there was no explanation for the letters other than as admissions of guilt.
Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed the mandatory penalty for murder on the accused, imprisonment for life.