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Father of three who threatened Garda at halting site gets suspended sentence

CourtsBy Sunday World
John McDonagh leaving court
John McDonagh leaving court

A married father of three who threatened gardai conducting a search at the halting site where he lived has been given a suspended sentence.

John McDonagh (36) of St. Louises Park, Temple Hill, Blackrock, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Garda Donacha Ryan at St Louise's Park, Blackrock on December 4, 2014. The married father of three has eleven previous convictions.

Judge Desmond Hogan had adjourned sentencing after hearing evidence last July (2015) to allow a probation report be prepared.

He commented that McDonagh had been “very brave in his own back garden” when gardai were outnumbered. The court heard the area was “an almost no go area for gardai.”

Today Judge Hogan imposed a four year sentence which he suspended on a number of conditions including that he perform 240 hours unpaid work in the community.

He also ordered that McDonagh complete drug or alcohol treatment programs as directed by the Probation Service.

Sergeant Gordon Woulfe told Noel Devitt BL,prosecuting, that there was an extensive early morning search being carried out at the halting site involving a number of gardai and the garda helicopter. There had been another search the previous month and tensions were high.

Gardai were preparing to leave the site at 10am and were putting items that had been seized into a patrol car when Gda Ryan heard McDonagh shout from his house at Garda Neill Doyle.

McDonagh told Gda Ryan: “You are lucky you were not here yesterday or I would have blown your fucking head off.”

McDonagh then turned his attention to Gda Ryan calling him a “cancerous bastard” and telling him he would pour petrol through his letter box. He also told Gda Ryan he would “put the tongue out of your head.”

Sgt Woulfe said McDonagh then began making threats to other gardai in the vicinity.

McDonagh was arrested and interviewed later that month. He told gardai he had undergone surgery on his ear the day prior to the search and had been taking morphine that day.

Defence counsel, John Dunne BL, suggested to Sgt Woulfe that the threats had been made out of “bad temper.” Sgt Woulfe said that he could not accept that and commented that the estate was “an almost no go area for gardai.”

He agreed that although McDonagh had referred to “yesterday” in one of his threats he had in fact been in hospital that day. Sgt Woulfe said he would accept McDonagh's apology “at face value.”

Mr Dunne said McDonagh had “acute issues with alcohol and narcotics” and when drugs and drink were in the picture he gets in trouble. He had no recollection of the events and was ashamed.

He submitted that McDonagh was trying to turn his life around and handed in a number of testimonials on his clients behalf. He said his use of narcotics and alcohol was under control as well.