Friday 24 May 2019

'Stop shouting at my f***ing kids' - Man who put handgun to neighbour's head in row over GAA bunting jailed

STOCK IMAGE Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
STOCK IMAGE Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Sonya McLean

A father who put a handgun to his neighbour's head after she told his children to stop pulling down bunting has been sentenced to four years.

James McDonagh (26) told Dolores Doyle to stop “shouting at my f*cking kids” when she asked them if they were responsible for the damaged bunting that she discovered in her garden on her return home from mass. The court heard she had erected the bunting to support Dublin in the All Ireland.

She and her husband Patrick, had twice earlier asked McDonagh's two children to stop coming into their garden and pulling the decoration down. The couple were aged in their sixties.

Garda Garret Durnan told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that Ms Doyle didn't accept she had been shouting at the children but McDonagh became aggressive calling her “a f*cking auld one”.

He told her he would hit her, “only you're an auld one” and Ms Doyle told him to “go ahead and hit me”.

McDonagh threatened to burn down her house and told her the next time her son visited, “I am going to pull him out of the f*cking car and kill him”.

Gda Durnan said McDonagh left but returned and came into the Doyle's garden with what the couple later described as a black six inch long handgun. The gun was never recovered.

He pointed it at Ms Doyle's head as she was trying to make her way back into her home.

Gda Durnan said the woman got down on her hands and knees as she feared shots were going to be fired.

McDonagh then pointed the gun at Mr Doyle's face. He also feared he would be shot and pleaded for his life and that of his wife's, the garda told Ms McGowan.

McDonagh backed off and ultimately left. The gardaí were called and he was arrested but Gda Durnan said nothing came out of his interview with officers.

McDonagh, of Bath Road, Balbriggan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to both Dolores and Patrick Doyle on September 20, 2015.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was in “all probability not a real gun” and said he didn't think McDonagh ever intended to harm the Doyles.

“He put a gun to the head of Ms Doyle. It was a convincing gun and they felt their life was under threat,” Judge Nolan said before he accepted evidence that Mr Doyle had previously been ill.

He accepted that McDonagh had been reared in a background were “violence was used to solve issues” and said in such incidences a person is more likely to be violent.

Judge Nolan further accepted that McDonagh had taken “concrete steps” to rehabilitate but said a custodial sentence must be imposed before he suspended the final two years of a four year term.

Victim impact reports were handed into court in which Ms Doyle said she had been “looking over her shoulder” for some time after the incident and didn't socialise locally. Her husband, who had suffered a stroke a short time beforehand, attended for medical treatment and suffered from anxiety in the immediate aftermath.

Gda Durnan said 18 of McDonagh's previous convictions were for road traffic offences. He confirmed that he has since moved from the area.

He agreed with Carol Doherty BL, defending, that McDonagh's plea of guilty and the fact he has moved from the area, have alleviated any future concerns the Doyles may have about him.

Ms Doherty told Judge Nolan that McDonagh learned through his childhood that violence was a way to solve issues.

“It was almost inevitable that violence would be something he would have to contend with,” counsel submitted before that she added that McDonagh's abuse of alcohol “exasperated the situation”.

She said he was deeply remorseful and had started attending for alcohol treatment. She said he moved himself and his family out of the area to prevent causing the Doyles any further difficulties.

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