Jasmine McMonagle murder accused said he ‘went ballistic’ and started strangling her

Richard Burke (32) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms McMonagle but guilty to manslaughter.

Jasmine McMonagle

Richard Burke has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms McMonagle but guilty to manslaughter


Gardaí made the decision to force entry to the house where Jasmine McMonagle had been killed after her eight-year-old daughter was seen at the front bedroom window of the property following an hours-long standoff with the accused, a Central Criminal Court jury has been told.

The court also heard this morning that in his first garda interview following his arrest, the accused man Richard Burke told investigating officers he “went ballistic” and started punching Ms McMonagle and strangling her with a rope.

The jury were also told how a member of the force who attended the scene shortly after 5am went to the rear of the property and saw Ms McMonagle's lifeless body lying in a pool of blood after he looked through a small gap in the curtains of a kitchen window.

Gardaí attended the scene following a 999 call by Ms McMonagle at 4.21am stating she was in fear for her life.

Richard Burke (32), of Killygordon, County Donegal, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms McMonagle at Forest Park, Killygordon on January 4, 2019 but guilty to manslaughter.

Evidence was heard from Sergeant Brendan McCann from Ballybofey Garda Station who was the main investigating officer in the case.

He told prosecuting counsel, Anne-Marie Lawlor, that gardaí from Lifford arrived on the scene within 20 minutes of the 999 call from Ms McMonagle.

They got no response when they knocked on the door and continued to bang on the door and windows.

They went to the back of the property where they could see a large window covered with curtains and a small window covered with what appeared to be a towel, Sgt McCann said.

Richard Burke has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms McMonagle but guilty to manslaughter

The two gardaí sought advice on whether a forced entry should be affected and a short time later retrieved a glass breaker from the patrol car which was used to gain entry to the property.

As they did so, a man appeared with bloodstaining on his clothes. The court heard he told gardaí his name was Charlie Thatcher but it was later established the man’s real name was Richard Burke.

He had a butcher-style meat cleaver in his hand and told gardaí they had no business being there.

One of the officers present used pepper spray on the man but this had no effect as he was wearing glasses, Sgt McCann said.

Mr Burke retreated into the kitchen and utility room.

When gardaí went in after him, he came out brandishing a meat cleaver and began swinging the cleaver at one of the members of the force, making contact with his clothing, the court heard.

Gardaí were forced to take evasive action and retreated from the property. They contacted the control room to report the incident and more gardaí arrived on the scene within minutes, Sgt McCann told Ms Lawlor.

The court heard a member of the force went to the rear of the property shortly after 5am where he could see through a gap in the curtains of the window.

He noted Mr Burke leaning inside and saw a slipper and a person's leg on the ground surrounded by a pool of blood with a small dog lying beside it.

Sgt McCann confirmed to Ms Lawlor that the death of Jasmine McMonagle had already occurred at that point.

A trained crisis negotiator arrived on the scene at 6.15am and from that point on he was the only person who had verbal contact with Mr Burke, engaging with him in an effort to de-escalate the situation and ascertain what had occurred, Sgt McCann said.

Mr Burke told the negotiator there were two children up in bed. When asked where Ms McMonagle was, he said she was sleeping.

Efforts continued to prevail upon Mr Burke to gain access to the house, while in the background the Armed Response Unit were being engaged, Sgt McCann said. An ambulance and paramedics were also in attendance.

At 7.29am Mr Burke was observed leaving the kitchen and appeared to bend down under the stairs in the hall. At 7.31 a paramedic observed a young child at the upstairs front window.

The court heard this was Ms McMonagle’s eight-year-old daughter. At that point the decision was made that there had to be an immediate and forced entry to the property, Sgt McCann said.

Gardaí entered the property and Mr Burke was barricaded in the rear of the house. The first garda inside was confronted by Mr Burke who was holding a glass breaker.

The accused was instructed to stop and desist and when he refused a taser was used, the court heard. Mr Burke was handcuffed and searched and a knife in a scabbard was found in his jacket.

Two phones were also found, one was his own and the other was Jasmine McMonagle’s phone, which had been used to make the 999 call, the court heard.

Ms McMonagle’s older daughter was found upstairs while her younger daughter was discovered in a cot in the front room of the property. Both were uninjured, Sgt McCann said.

Ms McMonagle’s body was found in a pool of blood in the kitchen and it was clear to all present at this point that she was already deceased.

Sgt McCann said Mr Burke was arrested and brought to Letterkenny Garda Station, where he was seen by a psychiatrist who deemed him fit to be interviewed.

The Sergeant confirmed to Ms Lawlor that in his first garda interview, Mr Burke made admissions that he had killed Jasmine McMonagle.

He told investigating officers that he “went ballistic” and started punching the 28-year-old and strangling her with a rope.

The jury also heard this morning that a post mortem carried out by Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan concluded that Ms McMonagle’s cause of death was ligature strangulation with multiple traumatic injuries to the head and trunk as contributory factors.

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