Brave mum Sinead Connolly says apology from gunman who left her paralysed was 'all about him'

Ms Connolly spoke out after Dean McCarthy was jailed for 15 yearsMcCarthy burst into her Dublin home and shot her in front of her daughterMs Connolly said she is now trying to get stronger for her daughter

Sinead Connolly with her daughter Leah, who witnessed the shooting

Dean McCarthy

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

The brave mother who survived a brutal gun attack that left her in a wheelchair has said she is now focused on getting her strength back for herself and her nine-year-old daughter, who witnessed the shooting.

Sinead Connolly (34) was speaking to The Sunday World after her attacker, Dean McCarthy (33), was jailed for 15 years at the The Central Criminal Court on Tuesday for the attempted gun murder.

Surrounded by her family including her mother and sister, Orla Connolly, Ms Connolly said she was happy with the sentence but was adamant that McCarthy had shown no remorse in the aftermath of the attack on March 6, 2021, at her Dublin home.

However, she said her focus now is on getting better for herself and Leah who was in the apartment and saw her mother after she was shot.

Ms Connolly also took issue with a letter of apology that was previously read out to the court by Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, on behalf of McCarthy.

"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,” the letter stated.

Ms Connolly said: “That apology was all about him. And then he just added me and Leah in. To me, if he was really remorseful, he would have started off by saying sorry and not talk about himself and the effect it had on him.

“I remember that day he came straight over to me as I sitting on the couch and he shot me.

“He came into my home and shot me and could have shot my child and my friends.”

McCarthy, who is Ms Connolly's neighbour, with an address at Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell Road, Dublin 12 appeared in court to be sentenced, having pleaded guilty last January to her attempted murder on March 6, 2021.

The court heard previously that in the lead-up to the shooting, McCarthy - a man Ms Connolly had known since childhood - had subjected her to a campaign of abuse where he regularly called her a "whore" 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".

The sentence hearing was told McCarthy "burst into" Ms Connolly's home with a gun and repeatedly shot her while her daughter hid under the kitchen table.

Leah escaped unharmed from the shooting, as McCarthy fled the flat.

But the effects on Ms Connolly, her daughter Leah and the wider Connolly family were outlined in the powerful victim impact statement that Sinead read out to the court.

Sentencing McCarthy on Tuesday, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the circumstances of the case were "shocking" and the consequences "devastating" for Ms Connolly and her daughter.

He set the headline sentence at 21 years in prison before considering mitigation factors.

McCarthy was then sentenced to 16 years in prison with the final year suspended for a period of two years.

It was backdated to when he went into custody on April 30, 2021.

The defendant was also sentenced to eight years in prison for possession of the firearm and six years for possession of ammunition.

These sentences are to run concurrently with the sentence imposed for the charge of attempted murder.

Ms Connolly said that seeing McCarthy again in court again had been “overwhelming” but she was happy with the sentence handed down.

“I think anyone who had done what he done should have been locked away forever but considering he pleaded guilty, I honestly thought he was going to get 12 years.

“But he got 15 so I’m happy with that.”

The court heard previously that the injuries Ms Connolly sustained seem unlikely to be reversible and have changed her life.

She remains in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, the court heard.

As a result of her injury, she is paraplegic and requires a wheelchair for all mobility and needs to use alternate methods to manage her bladder and bowel.

Her life expectancy is also reduced by the injury.

Ms Connolly said she is now trying to move on with her life, for herself and Leah.

“But for now I’m just trying really hard in rehab to get stronger, for myself and for my child,” she said.

“And when I see photographs of myself back then, a year ago, I can see how far I’ve come.”

Ms Connolly’s sister Orla who has taken care of Leah since the shooting said that her sister now had a voice for other victims of violent crime.

“At least she was able to come here today and be able to tell what happened to her and show other women how brave women are,” Orla said.

It is a sentiment that Ms Connolly previously expressed in an interview.

“At least I'm getting an opportunity now to have my say. I found strength to speak out for Leah and for any woman that has been intimidated or bullied,” she said.

"I was thinking of all the other women who have died in violent circumstances and never had the chance to be heard.

"When I was up there I felt like I was speaking for those women that have been murdered because, basically that's what he tried to do to me."

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