'We got a life sentence' - family of fatal punch attack victim killed by a martial arts expert

Mary Mullally (left), Patrick’s sister, leaves court with other family members

Declan Brennan

The family of a man killed by a single punch from a martial arts instructor in a late night street assault four years ago have said they are still "absolutely devastated" by his death and have been "left with a life sentence".

Judge Pauline Codd imposed a six-year prison sentence with six months suspended on Jonathan Dargan (49) yesterday for the manslaughter of Patrick Mullally.

Dargan, who once trained with MMA star Conor McGregor, attacked Mr Mullally (56) and his friend after the two men had stopped to intervene in a drunken row between Dargan and his partner.

Mr Mullally had been celebrating his retirement from Guinness when he and Shane Cunningham approached Dargan on the Harold's Cross Road, Dublin, around 4am on March 6, 2016.

Jonathan Dargan

"In a split flash" Dargan began throwing punches, and a passing cyclist told the trial he saw the two men putting their hands up to shield themselves.

At least one punch connected with Mr Mullally, shattering his jaw and cheekbone and knocking him to the ground.


Mr Mullally suffered a subdural haemorrhage and brain trauma due to a blunt trauma to the face and head and died the next day.

Mr Cunningham was also injured and described the effects of having to live with the trauma of the fatal attack.

Dargan, of Belfry Manor, Citywest, Dublin, had denied the unlawful killing of Mr Mullally.

Patrick Mullally

He also denied assault causing harm to Mr Cunningham and to Mr Mullally's niece, Lauren Mullally, during the same incident.

The defendant, a taekwondo instructor who had worked as a doorman at Lillie's Bordello nightclub for two decades, admitted "lashing out" with a punch but claimed he was acting in self-defence.

The cyclist, Shaun O'Donoghue, told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Dargan shouted "bang, bang" as he threw "fairly powerful" punches at the men.

Justice Codd said this was a particularly chilling aspect of the case and evidence of a man who was in control of the situation and not somebody in fear.

She said the jury had rejected Dargan's defence that he was in fear and felt he was being surrounded and that the independent CCTV evidence also showed this not to be the case.

Mr O'Donoghue also testified that he saw no aggression from the victims.


Judge Codd noted that Dargan's martial arts training meant he had a knowledge of the force and impact of his own strength and capacity.

She said for a man with this strength and capacity to strike a defenceless and intoxicated man was an aggravating factor.

She said the victims were entirely innocent and had approached Dargan to help a woman and to "do the honourable thing". The violence was unwarranted and Dargan was in a state of intoxication and an angry mood.

When Mr O'Donoghue had stopped at the rowing couple earlier Dargan had told him he to "f***k off and mind his own business" and that "he'd kill him or stamp on his head on the ground".

Judge Codd said that Dargan could have calmed down or walked away when the men approached him.

"Instead he choose to act in the worst type of macho way", she said.

Judge Codd noted in mitigation that Dargan had led a blameless life up to this point and that he had shown great support and strength to his family when his own mother was the innocent victim of a fatal shooting.

Judge Codd said she considered Dargan's remorse to be genuine and the assaults out of character.

Character testimonials noted that as a nightclub doorman for two decades he had always shown kindness and restraint even when dealing with difficult patrons. Judge Codd suspended the final six months of a six-year prison term, noting the assaults were not prolonged and were impulsive rather than premeditated.


After a trial last November the jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on the manslaughter charge.

The jury convicted him by majority on the charge of assaulting Mr Cunningham. The charge of assaulting Ms Mullally was withdrawn from the jury by Judge Codd.

Speaking after the sentencing Mary Mullally said her family missed her brother every day.

"Four years later we're still absolutely devastated by the loss of our beloved Paddy," she said. "His life revolved around being a devoted dad, caring brother, fun uncle and a cherished friend.

"We as a family miss him everyday but there is also a huge group of friends who are grieving alongside us. No matter what happened today, sadly we're left with a life sentence."

Judge Codd said it was particularly poignant that Mr Mullally died on the night he was celebrating his retirement after 35 years of working at the Guinness plant.

The court heard much of this involved working night shifts and Mr Mullally was looking forward to spending more time with his then 10-year-old daughter.