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Car thief to be sentenced for manslaughter of businessman

A car thief who killed another man who died after he fell off the bonnet of while the car was being stolen will be sentenced this afternoon.

Adam Murphy, from Cherry Orchard Crescent, Ballyfermot in Dublin, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Ian McDonnell on 23 January 2022.

His accomplice, Keith Mc Cormick-Smith, of Riverview, Church Road, Mulhuddart, in Dublin, who had stolen other cars that day with Murphy and had dropped him off to steal Mr McDonnell’s car was jailed for two years and two months.

Judge Dara Hayes said both men callously drove off and left the 50-year-old father of three dying on the road.

Mr McDonnell had stopped at his business, Ozone Car Sales, on Robinhood Road in Dublin, on 23 January 2022

Ian McDonnell died in hospital five days after the incident

He pulled his car onto the forecourt and left the engine running while he went inside.

Murphy and McCormack-Smith drove by the garage in a car they had stolen earlier that afternoon

They did a U-turn and pulled into a nearby business.

Murphy got out of the car and got into Mr McDonnell’s car.

The businessman tried to stop them but Murphy drove off with Mr McDonnell on the bonnet and accelerated.

Mr McDonnell was carried 46 metres, but was thrown off and his body travelled along the road for nine metres.

Murphy drove away and left the businessman on the road. He never regained consciousness and died in hospital five days later on 28 January 2022.

In a five hour period between 4pm and 9pm on the day Mr McDonnell was fatally injured, Murphy and McCormack-Smith stole three other cars and attempted to steal two more.

When they were arrested and questioned Murphy told gardaí that what happened on the night should never have happened, “if I had seen him I would have stopped,” he said.

Judge Dara Hayes said today that was “patently not correct.” Murphy would have seen Mr McDonnell on the bonnet.

Keith McCormick-Smith

McCormick-Smith said they “set out” that day “to rob a car”, and “didn’t set out to kill anyone”.

“I might seem like a scumbag, but I have emotions,” he said

All three of Mr McDonnell’s children made victim impact statements.

His 18-year-old daughter Clodagh said her mother received a call which “shattered our family forever”.

She recalled seeing her dad, “his head covered in blood”.

“He was pale and lifeless and that this was an image that no daughter should have to witness,” she said.

“I whispered one last time, ‘I love you’ into his ear.”

She recalled “grown men weeping” beside her father’s casket. She described having to do her Leaving Cert and said: “Dad gave me the strength I needed”.

She said: “He will never get to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, and he will never get to meet my children”.

A victim impact statement from Mr McDonnell’s 17 year old son Gareth was also read to the court. He said he and his father were “really into cars” and would go to car shows.

He said for him his father “died when he closed the door behind him that last time”.

He recalled saying “Bye Dad, I love you”.

Mr McDonnell’s wife, Monica, read her own statement to the court and said they were “childhood sweethearts”.

She described how becoming a father was the “proudest day of his life” and that “his greatest passion was his family”.

“When Ian died, part of me died that night as my heart belonged to him,” she said. “I miss him so much”, and “I think of the fear that he must have had on the bonnet of our car, lying on the road in pain”.

Murphy has 27 previous convictions, all from the District Court, which include road traffic offences, drug possession, arson and public order offences. He was also disqualified from driving at the time of this offence.

As well as manslaughter, he also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to take a vehicle, three counts of stealing three vehicles, one count of attempting to steal property from a vehicle and one count of stealing a push bike at various locations throughout Dublin on the same date.

McCormick-Smith has 16 previous convictions, all from the District Court, which include the unauthorised taking of a vehicle, theft, public order, criminal damage and possession of knives.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to take a vehicle, three counts of stealing three vehicles, one count of attempting to steal property from a vehicle, one count of stealing a push bike at various locations in Dublin on 23 January 2022.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of possession of stolen property in the form of a car key at his address on 8 February 2022.

Judge Hayes said Mr McDonnell was callously killed in a senseless and unnecessary way with such devastation caused to his family.

Both Murphy and McCormick-Smith, he said, could have stopped to help, but both drove off and left Mr O’Connell dying on the road

When Murphy drove at the businessman, he accelerated and did not use the brakes.

“Whatever he hoped to get for a six year old car cost a man his life…for the sake of a car,” the judge said.

He also noted that they continued to break into and steal other cars after the killing and then contacted another person to sell the cars they had stolen.

He sentenced McCormick-Smith to three years and two months on all offences, with the final year suspended on some of the counts.

The judge said he would finalise and clarify the sentence imposed on Murphy for manslaughter and other offences this afternoon.


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