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Trial hears of standoff between gardaí, murder accused


A detective garda sprinkled himself and armed officers with holy water to prove to a man accused of murder he was not the devil and that the gardaí were “good people trying to take him out of this house peaceably,” a court has been told.

The Central Criminal Court heard today that during a standoff between armed gardaí and Patrick McDonagh, whom the jury heard had a history of mental health issues, the accused told the detective that he was on the phone to God and that he believed the garda was the devil or doing the devil’s work.

Mr McDonagh, 52, with an address at Whitechapel Road, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, is charged with murdering his next-door neighbour Peter McDonald, 73, on Whitechapel Road on 25 July 2020.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter. The State has not accepted his plea.

Detective Garda Michael Hughes told prosecuting counsel Philipp Rahn that he arrived at Mr McDonagh’s house at 9.06am on 25 July 2020 and was made aware that Mr McDonagh had requested him and indicated he would speak only to Mr Hughes.

The detective said he knew Mr McDonagh through his work in community policing.

Mr McDonagh was inside his own house which was surrounded by armed gardaí and professional negotiators.

Sergeant David Swan told Mr Rahn that he was the primary negotiator on the team but when he tried to engage with Mr McDonagh it was “more me talking than a conversation with Mr McDonagh”.

The decision was taken to allow Mr Hughes to speak to Mr McDonagh.

Mr Hughes said he spoke to Mr McDonagh “on and off” for a couple of hours, mainly on the topic of religion and God.

Mr McDonagh told Mr Hughes that he was praying for him and asked him to go away and return at 6pm for the angelus.

After a period of about 20 minutes from 11.15am during which Mr McDonagh did not engage in any conversation, armed gardaí entered the house where they subdued and arrested Mr McDonagh.

Cross-examination

Under cross-examination, Mr Hughes agreed with defence counsel John Fitzgerald SC that he had known Mr McDonagh since 2012 and they had developed a friendship.

He described Mr McDonagh as generally approachable, friendly and engaging but on that morning, he was agitated and aggressive.

The main topic of conversation had been religion and God and at one point the detective believed he heard Mr McDonagh speaking on the phone and saying that he was talking to God.

At one point he said Mr McDonagh seemed unconvinced that he and the other gardaí were there to help.

He recalled Mr McDonagh accusing him of being the devil or doing the devil’s work so when Mr McDonagh handed a bottle of holy water out through the letterbox, Mr Hughes took it and sprinkled himself and other gardaí with it.

He said he did so to prove to Mr McDonagh that he was not the devil and that the gardaí were “good people trying to take him out of this house peaceably”.

“I wanted to prove to him that I was there to help him,” he added.

‘Blood staining’

The jury today also heard from Dr Edward Connolly of Forensic Science Ireland who found blood staining that indicated an assault on a person who was bleeding heavily in the bathroom of a neighbouring house outside which Mr McDonald was found dead.

He said he examined swabs taken from areas of blood staining on the bathroom floor, kitchen floor, a door handle, wall and porch of the 73-year-old’s home.

The DNA profile matched that of Mr McDonald, whose lifeless body had been found lying face down in his driveway by gardai shortly after 6am on 25 July 2020.

Dr Connolly today told Mr Rahn that he went to Mr McDonald’s home the day after the incident that resulted in his death.

An examination of blood stain patterns in the bathroom revealed areas of drip staining and pooling. Areas of spatter staining, he said, indicated that external force had been applied to liquid blood.

Considering the number of areas of blood staining and their different characteristics, Dr Connolly concluded that there had been an assault on a person who was bleeding heavily at the time.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of nine men and three women.


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