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Brave mum describes moment 'sadistic' neighbour paralysed her in attempted gun murder

Sinead Connolly persevered with the prosecution despite the horror of the ordeal she was subjected to

Brave: Sinead Connolly with her daughter Leah, who witnessed the shooting

Alison O’Riordan

A mother-of-one has described the moment her "evil, sadistic" neighbour - a man she has known since childhood - left her permanently paralysed in an attempted gun murder that "obliterated" her life.

The Central Criminal Court heard during today's sentence hearing that Dean McCarthy (33) "burst into" 34-year-old Sinead Connolly's home with a gun "in a rush of adrenaline" and repeatedly shot her while her eight-year-old daughter hid under the kitchen table.

The court heard that in the lead-up to the shooting, McCarthy had subjected Ms Connolly to a campaign of abuse and had grabbed her by the throat and spat in her face. McCarthy also told her he was going to "leave her in a body bag".

Thug: Dean McCarthy

McCarthy, with an address at Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell Road, Dublin 12, appeared at the court for his sentence hearing, having pleaded guilty last January to the attempted murder on March 6, 2021. He also pleaded guilty to having a firearm - a G9A Grand Power semi-automatic handgun - with intent to endanger life, as well as ammunition.

A victim impact statement was read to the court today by Ms Connolly, who had to be pushed to the stand in her wheelchair by a garda. Ms Connolly held up a photograph of herself and her daughter saying: "This is a photograph of how I was when I woke up [from the surgery]." A supporter of Ms Connolly shouted at McCarthy who was in the dock: "Are you looking at that there?" Ms Connolly's sister stood behind her and rubbed her back as she read.

Ms Connolly began her statement by saying that she was at home with her daughter and some friends when McCarthy "burst" into her house with a gun "in a cowardly attempt to murder me".

"I was shot three times and as a result I have been left paralysed; paralysed for ever. Another serious consequence of this heinous act is I have a high dependency on a multitude of pharmaceuticals and almost 100 per cent reliance on other people, both medical staff and family. We were making plans for my daughter's eight birthday a few days after this frenzied and evil attack which changed our lives for ever.

"I have known Dean McCarthy since we were small children and he lived next door. He subjected me and my daughter to constant abuse, spitting mucus on my windows. His delusionary sense of power transformed him into the epitome of a bully who subjected both me and my daughter to this bullying.

"Dean McCarthy burst into my home firing at me. The three bullets that hit me all caused serious damage. One shattered my collar bone, another broke several ribs and one punctured my lung and shattered my spine. A team of surgeons worked relentlessly for over 12 hours to keep me alive. The head of the ICU, who had 40 years' experience, later said they were the most catastrophic injuries he had ever seen.

"Two days later I had another major spinal operation to try to maintain rigidity of the shattered spine using steel rods and bolts. I remained in a coma for another 15 days which caused tremendous grief and anxiety to my whole family and close friends as my life hung in the balance, nobody could understand such abject cruelty and manifest evil. My mother later suffered a stroke which I believe was brought on by everything that happened as she was my main caregiver.

"To make matters worse I had to undergo a tracheotomy which rendered me speechless and unable to eat or drink. I couldn't communicate with anyone, including my daughter. This caused me heightened consternation. This was made worse by the fact that I didn't know the full extent of my injuries."

She continued: "Since this attempt on my life I have had to endure constant medical problems, almost perpetual infections, low blood pressure and panic attacks. The pain is not limited to physical, it is obviously emotional both for me and my daughter.

"We have had to separate from each other and I have had to relinquish my parenting role and my responsibility for my daughter's wellbeing. This is extremely hard because we are so close, my daughter has had to leave home and change schools but no child should ever have to witness her mother covered in blood, lying unconscious on the floor."

She added: "All these things that we take for granted, such as lifting our kids, going to the seaside, swimming, climbing, dancing together are all beyond my physical ability. Any plans we had were diminished by Dean McCarthy.

"I have remained in hospital for nearly 13 months now and I am unsure how long this will be for.

"Dean McCarthy is an evil, sadistic and cowardly bully. Dean McCarthy is a danger to society. He tried to kill me and even though he didn't he has obliterated both mine and my family's life. He deserves the severest punishment in law."

"Very menacing" CCTV footage of four masked men outside McCarthy's flat moments before the shooting was shown to the court. One man can be seen holding up his fingers "like a pistol or a gun sign", the court heard.

Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC read a letter of apology to the court on behalf of his client saying: "Things got out of hand quickly and although four masked men tried to force entry to my home that morning to bring me harm, you did not deserve to be hurt like that. I sincerely hope you and your daughter fully recover and I wish you both the very best."

The barrister stressed that this was not "a planned event" and that the case exemplified most "that people should never take the law into their own hands".

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