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“Menace to society” with 166 previous convictions given "chance" to reform himself

“Menace to society” with 166 previous convictions given "chance" to reform himself

A “menace to society” with 166 previous convictions has been given a “chance to deliver” on promises to reform himself following his imprisonment for robbery during which he impersonated a garda.

Martin McDonagh (30), of Cnoic an Óir, Rahoon, Galway City, had pleaded guilty at Galway Circuit Criminal Court to robbery at a location in the city on October 13, 2013. Other charges were taken into account.

He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by Jude Rory McCabe on March 12, 2015.

McDonagh had the final 18 months of his sentence suspended today by the Court of Appeal “in order to give him a chace to deliver” on promises to reform himself.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the injured party had been socialising in a friend's house on the night in question when he went to check on his car.

Outside, he was approached by McDonagh – as well as his partner - who told him he was a garda and demanded his keys on suspicion of being involved in drink driving.

McDonagh took off in the car after punching the victim, the judge said. The victim's mobile phone was also stolen.

Later on, gardaí received reports of a man matching McDonagh's description impersonating gardaí in the Eyre Square area.

Gardaí found McDonagh hiding in a bush and the car was located nearby. He was arrested and detained in the course of which he made admissions.

The impact on the injured part was “severe”, Mr Justice Birmingham said. He lost his confidence and €1,600 financially.

Prior to the offence he lived in Canada and had returned home to Ireland to seek employment. Asked many times was he glad to be home, his “brutally honest” response was no, he felt much safer and secure in a foreign country than he did in his homeland, the judge said.

McDonagh had 166 previous convictions including convictions for theft, burglary and unauthorised taking of vehicles. He was married with four children and came from a very large family of 18, the judge said.

Mr Justice Birmingham said any offence involving the impersonation of a garda was inherently damaging to society as a whole, to people coming into contact with gardaí and the gardaí themselves who have to go about their duties.

The sentencing judge described him as a “menace to society, a menace to himself and a menace to his family ... since 2001” and that there was no hope that McDonagh had taken any real steps to rehabilitate himself.

However, Mr Justice Birmingham said it did not seem that McDonagh had ever served a significant sentence and six months would seem to be the longest. Most of his previous convictions were for road traffic matters and McDonagh was promising to take the first steps to reform himself

The Court of Appeal decided to intervene in his sentence to explore whether there was any real substance in his intention to reform.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would suspend the final 18 months of a seven year sentence “in order to give him a chance to deliver”.

He was required to enter into a good behaviour bond for three years post release.