Man gets six years in jail for killing dad in drunken row
A 24-YEAR-OLD Limerick man has been sentenced to eight years in prison with the final two years suspended, for killing his father in a drink-fuelled row.
Gerard McNamara, of Cedar Court, Kennedy Park, Limerick, had pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Joseph 'Joey' O'Donnell at Hyde Road, Prospect, in the city on October 1st, 2010.
The 48-year-old man died in hospital from blunt force trauma to the head, hours after his son had kicked and beaten him with a number of household items.
Joseph O'Donnell's former partner Jean Coleman said a row broke out between father and son when they were both “steamed” after a day spent drinking at Joey's house on Hyde Road.
The court heard McNamara “just snapped” when Joseph O'Donnell made “disparaging comments” about his son's mother, suggesting he would need to take a paternity test to prove he was Gerard's father.
The jury were told Gerard McNamara knocked his father to the ground and started kicking him and hitting him with “anything he could get his hands on” including items of furniture and a full beer can.
Gardaí were called to the scene about 3.30am when the two men were arguing in the front garden.
They offered to call an ambulance for Joey who had bruising under his left eye, but he refused and also declined to make any complaint, claiming “it was nothing, just family stuff”.
Ms Coleman raised the alarm when she was unable to rouse Joseph from bed the following morning.
He was taken by ambulance to hospital in an unconscious state and later pronounced dead.
Speaking outside the court, Gerard McNamara's mother Marian said her only son was “very upset” by what had happened that night, and that he hadn't meant to do what he had done.
“There were things said on the night that weren't true,” she said.
“My father reared my son and he raised seven of us as well. He is the nicest, quietest gentleman you could ever meet. No one has a bad word to say about him, and I want to clear that with the newspapers,” she said.
Ms McNamara said her son went down to the house after the row to see whether was Joey all right, and also phoned him about an hour after the incident.
“Joey was all right, we weren't expecting him to die,” she said.
A victim impact statement read in court on behalf of the dead man's older brother Anthony O'Donnell said Joey was “highly regarded” by his friends and family, who would be “lost without him”.
“He didn't deserve to die that way,” the statement read.
The court heard that McNamara has 16 previous convictions including theft, possession of drugs and public order offences.
Mr Justice Paul Carney suspended the final two years of the eight-year sentence on account of Gerard McNamara's remorse and his early plea of guilty.
He also directed that McNamara undergo 18 months of post-release supervision, warning that he may be liable to further imprisonment if those terms are breached.
The sentence was backdated to October 11, 2011, meaning that McNamara is due to serve five and a half years in prison.