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Drug dealing family face losing home to CAB after bullying previous owner to sell

David McDonagh, his wife Helen and their son William, who have dozens of criminal convictions, are notorious in Dundalk's Muirhevnamor estate

The McDonagh’s house (right) and the next-door home they bought in an elaborate scheme involving threats and deception

The McDonagh’s house

David McDonagh

Bare-knuckle boxer Michael Quinn-McDonagh

Eamon DillonSunday World

Drug-dealing family face losing a house they bought with the proceeds of crime after they used threats and deception to get the previous owner to sell up.

David McDonagh, his wife Helen and their son William, who have dozens of criminal convictions, are notorious in the Muirhevnamor estate in Dundalk, Co. Louth, where they live.

Now, it has emerged they used a woman as a front to buy the property next door to their own home. The woman died just a month after the purchase and left the house to the McDonagh’s son, William.

David McDonagh is the brother of two infamous bare-knuckle boxers, Michael and James Quinn-McDonagh, who featured in the TV documentary ‘Knuckle’.

Michael Quinn-McDonagh is currently serving life for the murder of his wife in a steroid-fuelled attack at their Dundalk home in 2013.

The McDonagh’s house

James, who has no involvement in crime, is based in the UK and has been involved in bare-knuckle boxing promotions.

David McDonagh and his son William were described in court as being heavily involved in drug dealing, with large sums of cash floating around for years – with one water-damaged batch of cash even brought to the Central Bank to be replaced.

An investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) into their finances revealed how they had acquired the terraced house next door to their own ornate home using “intimidation and deception”.

The way in which their son William became the owner was described as being “noteworthy” in affidavit filed by CAB’s Chief Superintendent Michael Gubbins.

“The first is the intimidation and deception of a vulnerable man... to have him pay for work on several occasions, which in part resulted in his mother selling her interest in the house at a significant loss.

“The second is the use of [a woman] as a front to sign the contract for sale to purchase the house so as to conceal that David and Helen McDonagh purchased the house for their son William McDonagh.”

David McDonagh

He added that the woman did not have the means to pay for the house, never lived there and the accounts given by the McDonaghs “do not withstand rational scrutiny”.

They claimed the house had been left to their son William, who became the full owner when he turned 18.

In 2019, while being interviewed by a Social Welfare inspector, William said that his parents had bought No.5, Road 2, Muirhevnamor for him.

The way in which the house was acquired between two unrelated people “is highly unusual”, according to the affidavit.

A hand-written page in the conveyancing file shows the house being bought in the woman’s name for €20,000, but instructions came from Helen McDonagh.

It was also revealed David and Helen McDonagh had spent €264,000 on the refurbishment of their house at No.6 when their only legitimate income was from social welfare.

“David McDonagh is on disability, which indicates he does not work,” it was stated.

“He comes to the attention of gardai on regular basis and none of them have observed him working.”

Bare-knuckle boxer Michael Quinn-McDonagh

Receipts were also found that showed David McDonagh had spent €7 on dentistry during a three-month period in 2020.

In their case, CAB outlined how David and William McDonagh are both convicted drug dealers, with 10 convictions for sale and supply between them.

They amassed €49,000 in cash, some found hidden in the chimney at No.6 and €35,000 behind the moulding in the sitting room wall.

There was also “no credible explanation” as to how Helen McDonagh bought a Ford Kuga for €18,500 cash in May 2020.

Judge Alex Owens said there was “ample evidence” to support the assertion the assets are derived from the proceeds of crime.

He described the idea of the house being gifted to William McDonagh in this way as being “somewhat ridiculous”.

David McDonagh later turned up in the High Court after the judge made the ruling to allow the application by CAB that the house at No.5 Road 2 be declared the proceeds of crime.

He told Judge Owens he had looked “north and south” but couldn’t find a lawyer to represent him in the case.

He also blamed Dublin traffic and finding the Four Courts for his delay in getting to the hearing.

Judge Owens explained he had already disposed of the matter that the only option for McDonagh now is to appeal the decision.


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