Tuesday 20 February 2018

Bare-knuckle boxer beat his wife to death

Michael McDonagh and Jacqueline McDonagh
Michael McDonagh and Jacqueline McDonagh
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

A man who starred in the movie documentary 'Knuckle' has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife.

The 36-year-old 'bare knuckle boxer' killed his wife in an assault which lasted "one hour and 20 minutes" in their home in Dundalk three years ago.

Michael McDonagh was the subject of the 2011 documentary, which also included background on the couple's marriage.

The main focus of the film was violent feuding between the McDonagh, Nevin, and Joyce traveller families, and it was released to critical acclaim.

McDonagh, with an address at College Manor, Hoey's Lane, Dundalk Co Louth, pleaded guilty before the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Jacqueline McDonagh, on August 29, 2012.

The court heard how the mother of three had been "cruelly taken from her family" when she was "brutally beaten to death" by her husband of 15 years.

She had made several unsuccessful attempts to call her father and the court was told her mobile phone was found under her dead body.

A Victim Impact Statement read out on behalf of Jacqueline's family, by Detective Inspector Patrick Marry, described her as "the apple of her father's eyes".

The statement said she was one of eight children who constantly worried about her family, whom she always put first.

"Words fail to describe what happened to our family when her life was snuffed out.

"Now all I see is sadness in my parent's eyes," said the statement.

Her family also said Jacqueline had been particularly looking forward to planning her daughter Chloe's wedding day.

"It breaks our heart she won't be part of that day," said the statement, adding it was "cruel and monstrous" the way she had died.

Before Justice Paul Carney, Detective Inspector Marry, a Senior Investigating Officer in charge of the investigation, told the court about a call being placed to the ambulance emergency services in Dundalk in August 2012.

On arrival the ambulance personnel found an unresponsive female with "suspicious injuries".

Counsel for Mr McDonagh, Caroline Biggs SC, explained to the court how Mr McDonagh was "in a very distressed state" and pleaded with the ambulance service to help.

CCTV footage from a number of hours previous to the murder, show the father-of-three getting out of his car in good form and "dancing".

The family had been at a family party previously and alcohol had been consumed.

The defence told the court, the couple had been in "good form" at the party, and there had been "no issues."

The court heard that the gardai were then called when it became apparent that Mrs McDonagh had been assaulted.

Pronounced dead at the scene, Jacqueline was found lying on her back, with her feet facing the front door, she was only wearing underwear.

Det Insp Marry told the court there was a gash to her forehead and a large amount of blood on the walls and ceiling.

Irish Independent

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