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toast to freedom Thug who shattered cop's legs walks free after five years' jail

Our picture shows 31-year-old Patrick McDonagh back at home in Balbriggan on Wednesday night after being freed from Mountjoy Prison on serving just over five years behind bars.

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Patrick McDonagh

Patrick McDonagh

Garda Ciaran Murrihy

Garda Ciaran Murrihy

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Patrick McDonagh

A thug, who shattered the legs of a garda, by ramming the officer between a stolen car and a Garda patrol vehicle, toasted his first night of freedom by posing for pictures with a Budweiser.

Our picture shows 31-year-old Patrick McDonagh back at home in Balbriggan on Wednesday night after being freed from Mountjoy Prison on serving just over five years behind bars.

His release comes just over 18 months after the devastating life-altering injuries sustained by Garda Ciaran Murrihy led to the High Court awarding him damages in the sum of €975,000.

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Garda Ciaran Murrihy

Garda Ciaran Murrihy

Garda Ciaran Murrihy

McDonagh, had 19 previous convictions for offences including drink driving, robbery and aggravated burglary, when he reversed a stolen vehicle into the legs of Gda Murrihy at Clonuske Rise, Hamlet Lane, Balbriggan on the night of August 29, 2015.

The then 26-year-old subsequently pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to causing serious harm to Gda Murrihy.

He further pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment of Gda Murrihy, assaulting Garda Stephen Hughes and Garda Vincent Turley and unlawful use and criminal damage of a vehicle at the same location and date.

Sergeant Padraig Lynch told Kathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that Gda Murrihy, Gda Hughes and Garda Lucy Woods spotted the stolen Citroen parked in the estate.

He said McDonagh reversed the vehicle as the gardaí approached it on foot from either side and crashed into the patrol car behind, jamming Gda Murrihy, who fell on the ground as the Citroen continued moving backwards over his ankle.

McDonagh then drove the vehicle forward while Gda Murrihy was on the ground and sped around the corner into a cul-de-sac, where he crashed the car into a wall and attempted to flee on foot.

He assaulted Gda Turley as he was being arrested and made no admissions during interview, but entered an early guilty plea.

Gda Murrihy, described in his victim impact statement how he was "haunted" by the vision of McDonagh driving the stolen car directly at him.

Gda Murrihy said he had since gone from being a proud garda and active father-of-two to feeling "useless".

"I was so active and now I spend all day, every day doing nothing… it was not meant to be like this," he said in the statement read out in court by Sergeant Lynch.

Gda Murrihy outlined how he had been in a "good place" in his 14-year career and had loved the way his children saw him as "their big, strong dad".

He also paid tribute to his wife, who he said helped him with everything. He described missing work and his formerly busy lifestyle and added that he now only had medical appointments to plan for.

Judge Martin Nolan imposed the seven-year sentence on the most serious charge. He also imposed a concurrent sentence of three-and-a-half years for the offence of assaulting Gda Hughes.

The sentences dated from August 31 2015 when McDonagh went into custody - but with remission applied he qualified for release from prison last Wednesday.

At a hearing in June 2019 to decide on the sum compensation to be awarded to Gda Murrihy, further horrific details emerged, including how he had to roll away to avoid his legs being repeatedly run over.

Gda Murrihy was in a wheelchair when he attended the criminal court in February 2016 and the court heard he was expected to be out of work for "a very long time".

Notwithstanding, the sickening consequences of McDonagh's actions on the night of August 29, 2015, he was welcomed back with open arms by family members.

"Welcome home from jail kid, enjoy your nite," wrote one.


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