Salthill man jailed after threatening to kill 97-year-old woman and abusing garda

A man has been sentenced to nine years for assaulting and threatening to kill a 97-year-old woman in her home.

Paul McDonagh (41 ) fled the scene by climbing into the back garden of a garda who had just got off duty. He was arrested after also threatening the garda who was feeding his baby at the time.

McDonagh, of no fixed abode, but originally from Salthill in Galway, has 48 previous convictions including four burglaries in the UK of elderly victims where he posed as a police officer.

He has also served a 12-year sentence for breaking into the home of a woman, tying her up and assaulting her.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to threatening the woman and Garda Francis Chaney, assault causing harm to the woman and burglary of her home on June 8, 2010 in the Marino area.

The 97-year-old widow appeared in court and prosecuting counsel, Mr Ronan Kennedy BL, read out a victim impact statement on her behalf saying she still has “terrible nightmares” that McDonagh is standing over her.

She said she now only gets three or four hours sleep a night and that she has lost her independence and trust in people.

“After 97 years of trusting people I felt he took all of that away from me in a few minutes,” she said. “I hope he is not allowed to roam the streets to terrify other elderly people.”

Judge Martin Nolan called it a “highly reprehensible crime” and said that McDonagh threatened his victim “mercilessly.” He said McDonagh is a continuing threat to society but noted he is “a damaged individual” and had entered a guilty plea. He sentenced him to nine years with the final three suspended.

Garda Cathriona O’Leary told the court that at around 7pm the woman spotted a well dressed “immaculate” looking McDonagh in her front garden. She asked him if he was looking for something and he offered to tidy up her garden for €10.

He then entered the house and asked for the victim’s name and phone number before saying he was going to make a list of things he was going to fix in her house.

He then put his hands on her knees, leaned in close to her face and began saying repeatedly, “I’m going to kill you.”

He began shouting this before saying, “I can put you on your back and kill you.” He put his hands over her mouth and pushed her head back, causing the chair she was sitting in to lean back.

The woman could not breath and was sure he was going to sexually assault her. Her gum was cut by McDonagh forcing her dentures against it. He released his hand and fled with her purse.

The woman started screaming and two neighbours spotted McDonagh and chased him. He climbed into the back garden of Gda Chaney who had just arrived home from a shift and was feeding his 10-month old child.

He spotted McDonagh and asked what he was doing. McDonagh demanded to be let through the house but Gda Chaney refused and called his colleagues on the phone. McDonagh then became aggressive and threatened the garda, saying “make sure you’re not living here much longer.”

McDonagh went to push the garda and was restrained after a struggle.

Defence counsel Mr Sean Gillane SC, said McDonagh is a “very very damaged and troubled man” who spent most of his adult life in custody in the UK where most of his convictions are from.

He said McDonagh is engaging with treatment for his drug addiction for the first time and asked the court to be as lenient as possible


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