Saturday 21 September 2019

Father and daughter jailed for gun attack in which baby shot

Tears: Charlene Donovan broke down and was comforted by her father, Dan, when both were sentenced to five years in prison. Photo: Collins
Tears: Charlene Donovan broke down and was comforted by her father, Dan, when both were sentenced to five years in prison. Photo: Collins

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A father and daughter have been jailed for five years each for firing the same gun during a family altercation in which a six-month-old baby was shot in the legs.

Charlene (23) and Dan Donovan (49) both pleaded guilty to possessing a shotgun with intent to endanger life and to recklessly discharging a firearm at Parslickstown Gardens, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15, on December 12, 2017.

Dan Donovan, formerly of Parslickstown Gardens, also pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Michael Collins on the same date.

Detective Garda Michael Parry Jones told the court that Charlene Donovan, formerly of Parslickstown Gardens and now of Dundalk, Co Louth, had fired the first shot across the road.

This shot injured a 17-year-old man, the baby in his arms and that infant's mother. The court heard the injured parties were standing about four meters away.

Dan Donovan then took the gun from his daughter, threatened to "bury" Mr Collins and accidentally discharged the firearm into the ground by his feet.

Det Gda Parry Jones said he arrived on the scene to see two uniformed colleagues trying to separate the two families. He said the 17-year-old was in one house with his T-shirt pulled up and puncture wounds on his abdomen.

The detective told prosecutor John Berry that he later found out that the baby had been taken to hospital and had surgery to remove shotgun pellets from his legs. He said the baby is awaiting further surgery to have the five remaining pellets removed.

In victim impact reports handed in to court, the child's mother said her baby can walk but is in constant pain. She said he sometimes wakes up with the pain and that she has to massage his feet.

The woman detailed how she has limited movement in her wrist from where a shotgun pellet lodged in her bone. She also received a hip injury and described how she has been shocked and depressed since the incident.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the baby would have ongoing difficulties with his injuries. He added: "Whatever about the adults, this child was completely blameless".

Det Gda Parry Jones told Mr Berry that he arrested Dan Donovan at the scene when a sawn-off shotgun was found concealed under debris at the back of his then house.

Witnesses to the incident described how there had been a verbal altercation between the families before Charlene Donovan was heard saying: "Daddy, take the gun, take the gun."

The court heard shots were fired through the Donovans' kitchen window. He accepted that two men from the rival family were physically imposing, violent and intimidating.

Charlene Donovan has no record of offending. Her father has previous convictions for minor road traffic matters.

Jailing both, Judge Nolan said there was a history of dispute between the Donovan and Collins families and that both had decided to take the law into their own hands.

He accepted that the Donovans were in fear on the day. He said he was sympathetic to Charlene Donovan, but she had shot somebody.

On hearing the sentence, she broke down in tears and was held tightly by her father. Supporters of the family became upset in court.

Irish Independent

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