Woman suffered ‘truly horrific’ injuries after Balla attack
A man who shot his cousin twice in the legs as she worked in a shop in Balla was sentenced to seven years imprisonment at last week’s sitting of Castlebar Circuit Court.
Vincent O’Donnell of Knocknabrone, Mayo Abbey, pleaded guilty to shooting his second cousin, Dympna Walshe twice at close range with a shot gun on May 31, 2011. The court heard there was friction between the two people due to her close relationship with his 83-year-old mother.
The incident occurred at 6.30pm when Mr O’Donnell (48) entered the Costcutters shop in Balla where Ms Walshe (50) worked as a shop assistant and twice shot the mother of four in the legs from close range in front of customers at her till.
The court heard that as Ms Walshe lay lying on the floor, O’Donnell threw down his shot gun and ‘laughed and smirked’ before leaving the shop.
Judge Rory MacCabe described the injuries sustained by Ms Walshe as ‘truly horrific’ and said she was lucky to be alive. He suspended the final three years of the seven year sentence and backdated the start date to May 31, 2011 when he was first remanded in custody.
In a victim impact statement which was read out in court by Detective Garda Róisín Loftus, Ms Walshe explained she was dealing with customers when Vincent O’Donnell walked in the shop holding something in his hand. When she realised he had a gun, she shouted, ‘Vincent, what are doing’ before he shot her in the left thigh as she tried to run away. As she lay on the ground in ‘excruciating pain’, he fired another shot in her right leg.
“I looked up in the direction of Vincent O’Donnell,” she stated. “He laughed and smirked at me.…. there was blood everywhere, I was sure I was going to die.”
She was rushed to Mayo General Hospital where she remained until June 17 and had to take 15 different tablets for three weeks for the pain and to heal the wounds. She said she hates to look at the wounds which Judge Mac Cabe said were ‘graphic and shocking’.
She continues to undergo extensive rehabilitation and stated that after arriving home she remained afraid that ‘Vincent O’Donnell would enter my home and finish me off’.
Detective Garda Loftus explained that at 7.50pm, she and other armed colleagues entered Malachy Byrne’s pub in nearby Mayo Abbey where Mr O’Donnell was drinking. As she entered she heard him say, ‘Are they here for me yet’ and after he was arrested he replied, ‘I shot her, I shot her, she f***ing wanted it, I shot her’.
As they drove away he asked, ‘Did I murder Dympna, I’ll get 15 years for it. This will be last time I’ll see this place’.
When he was interviewed by gardaí, he took responsibility for what he did and expressed remorse for what he did.
The court heard that Ms Walshe and Mr O’Donnell grew up in the same village but issues arose between the pair when Ms Walshe grew close to his 83-year-old mother. In 2008, Mr O’Donnell became aware that his mother gave Ms Walshe a €5,000 bank draft and in 2009 she brought Mrs O’Donnell to a family doctor to discuss the possibility of making a second will.
Ms Walshe also reported Mr O’Donnell on three occasions to the health services regarding alleged abuse to his mother.
The allegations were investigated but they were without substance. Ms Walshe also alleged that he was hostile to her on a number of occasions and reported incidents to the gardaí.
Mr O’Donnell did not go into evidence but his senior counsel, Martin Giblin said there was no justification for what he did. He said his client and his family had issues regarding Ms Walshe’s relationship with his mother but accepted his reaction was completely disproportionate.
Mr O’Donnell, he said, was an alcoholic who had alcohol taken at the time of the offence and was seeking counselling for his addiction. He added that his mother missed his company and her health suffered as a result.
Judge Mac Cabe said that any ill-will towards the victim or alcohol did not justify the attack and described it as premeditated. He said that Ms Walshe was weak and defenceless in dealing with such a deadly attack and did not regard as unjustifed her belief she would die.
In sentencing Mr O’Donnell he also directed that he undergo addiction counselling in prison and come under the supervision of the probation service for three years post release. He also said he was not a fit person to hold a firearm and he should notify the Circuit Court if he applies for a certificate in the future.