Son dragged dying father on to bed moments after shooting
Published 05/09/2011 | 05:00
THE son of a shooting victim dragged his dying father on to a bed moments after he was hit by a volley of shots fired through his caravan door.
Fatally injured Tom McDonagh (49) shouted "call me an ambulance" to his son and a neighbour who had rushed to his aid after he was blasted several times in a premeditated hit.
He was brought to the Mater Hospital in Dublin following the shooting at around 9.50pm on Saturday night but was pronounced dead.
Gardai believe the father of three, who was alone in his mobile home at St Margaret's halting site in Ballymun on the northside of Dublin city when he was shot, owed a debt to a Dublin crime gang.
Two men drove up to his home and opened fire with an automatic pistol through the door of the mobile home.
Mr McDonagh, who was struck at least twice, slumped to the ground as the killers made their escape in a dark-coloured Nissan Qashqai car.
They sped along St Margaret's Road and into the Mayeston apartment complex in Finglas, where they set their getaway car on fire.
The men then ran into a clump of bushes, climbed a fence and made their way on to the southbound lane of the M50 motorway ,where they were collected by an accomplice in another vehicle.
Mr McDonagh had come to the attention of the gardai for minor offences in the past but was not regarded as a major criminal.
However, senior officers suspect he had fallen foul of a local crime gang in recent weeks because he owed them money.
Last night, detectives were trying to establish the circumstances behind the cold-blooded murder, which they said had been well planned by the gang.
They were also attempting to find out how much the gang had been owed and whether there was any connection between the shooting and drug dealing.
Relatives and neighbours said they heard loud noises like "fire crackers" when the attack took place in what has been described as a normally peaceful halting site. Mr McDonagh's wife Kathleen was out at the time of the shooting.
A next-door neighbour ran to Mr McDonagh's aid after the assassins fled.
He was quickly joined by Mr McDonagh's son Peter (21), who helped pull his dying father on to a bed. It is understood he was with him when he passed away.
A post-mortem examination was due to take place this morning.
Relatives and friends were unanimous in describing Mr McDonagh as a quiet, well known man who was popular in the area. They said they had no idea why he should have been attacked.
Originally from Leitrim, he had been based in Dublin for a long time and lived in the Ballymun halting site since it opened six years ago.
"Tom was very quiet, we are all shocked," his niece Mary Stokes said.
"He used to go around talking to all of the lads and having a chat with them. He was always in his own place."
She said that nobody knew of any enemies he might have had and added he was always very quiet.
Mr McDonagh made a living from scrap dealing and neighbours said that while he was sociable, he preferred to enjoy a drink at home.
Another nephew, Jonathan, said that his uncle "always did his own thing", that there was never any talk of him having enemies and that such a brutal crime was not typical of the area.
"It's very quiet around here," he said. "Most people just go drinking or play football or collect scrap."
Gardai last night appealed to the public for help. They are looking for anybody who saw the Qashqai car either near the halting site or being set on fire at the Mayeston complex between 9.30pm and 10pm on Saturday.
They are anxious to trace any motorist who might have spotted two men climbing over a fence on to the M50 at the Finglas exit and being picked up in a vehicle at around 10pm or noticed a parked car at the exit in the 15 minutes prior to that.
They have asked people with information to contact the incident room at Ballymun station, tel 6664400, or the confidential phone line, 1800 666111.