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Ballyhaunis man bit off brother-in-law’s lip

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Ballyhaunis man who bit off brother-in-law’s lip sent to jail


Gardaí called after man was alleged to be beating his wife

Two in-laws were sent to jail last week after a family Christmas night out spiralled out of control, leading to claims that a man was beating his wife on the night, threats to kill Gardaí and a man biting off his brother-in-law’s bottom lip.
Michael McDonagh (35) of 15, St Gerard’s Crescent, Ballyhaunis pleaded guilty to threatening to kill two Gardaí and of assault on Bernie McDonagh (29) while Bernie McDonagh of 8, Tooraree, Ballyhaunis pleaded guilty to a count of assault causing harm on Michael McDonagh.
Both had initially indicated they were pleading not guilty and a jury was empanelled to hear the trial. However, before the trial began, they indicated a plea of guilty. As a result a further charge of threatening to kill, an assault charge and a charge of breach of the peace against Michael McDonagh were taken into consideration.
Garda James Mangan told the court that the charges arose after a night out in Ballyhaunis on Saturday, December 17, 2011. The court heard that Bernie McDonagh is married to Ann McDonagh, who is Michael McDonagh’s sister. Both families spend time in Swansea, Wales and in Ballyhaunis and the three and Michael’s wife, Winnie, were out on the night, as were other family members.
Garda Mangan said an argument started when they left a pub and some wanted to go to a take-away restaurant and others wanted to go on drinking in a night club.
Bernie, Winnie and Ann McDonagh were seen heading towards St Gerard’s Crescent, where Ann and Michael’s mother lives, and Michael McDonagh followed them later, the court heard.
Gardaí called
Gardaí got a call at 1.20am where it was alleged that Michael McDonagh was hitting his wife, Winnie. Garda Mangan said that when they got to 15, St Gerard’s Crescent, himself and Garda John Devane saw a number of flower pots damaged and the front window of the house was broken.
He said that Bernie McDonagh came out and said that Michael McDonagh was inside and was ‘killing’ his wife. Subsequently, Garda Mangan said the door opened again and Michael McDonagh could be seen dragging Ann McDonagh, his sister, towards the door and then ‘violently threw her out of the house’ and closed the door behind him.
Garda Mangan said Ann McDonagh also said Michael McDonagh was inside assaulting his wife. He said he saw Winnie McDonagh with blood on her face and on her top. He said Michael McDonagh came outside shortly afterwards and while Gardaí did attempt to separate both men, Michael McDonagh took off his jacket, jumper and shoes and charged at Bernie McDonagh. Both men were on the ground striking each other and he said he could see Bernie McDonagh biting and Michael McDonagh attempting to bite.

Piece of lip on the ground
He found a piece of flesh on the ground subsequently which was part of the bottom lip of Michael McDonagh. He had to have reconstructive surgery but will be left with a permanent scar, the court heard.
Garda Mangan said that both Gardaí had to use pepper spray to subdue the McDonaghs, adding it was the first time he ever had to use pepper spray.
He added that while they were handcuffed Michael McDonagh made threats to Bernie McDonagh and then made a threat to Garda Devane that he, Michael McDonagh, had a lot of nephews in the town and they would find his car and burn it out with him in it. He threatened Garda Mangan that ‘it wasn’t hard’ to get a sawn-off shotgun and that he’d be back in Wales before anyone knew he had shot Garda Mangan.
He also threatened to burn out Garda Mangan’s car with him in it.

Men made peace with each other
The court heard both men were married with children and lived most of the time in Wales and came home to Ballyhaunis on occasion. Despite the incident, both were on very good terms, lived beside each other and worked together, the court heard.
Michael McDonagh had 32 previous convictions and Bernie McDonagh had seven. Áine Boyle, counsel for Michael McDonagh, said he took a pledge in front of the Carmelite nuns in Knock last March to stop drinking and hasn’t drank since. She said drink was at the heart of his criminal background and said he was ‘remorseful and embarrassed’ and had ‘brought shame on his family’.
Eoin Garavan, counsel for Bernie McDonagh, said his client was not the aggressor and had tried to protect both Ann and Winnie McDonagh and had only bit Michael McDonagh’s lip after he claimed Michael McDonagh bit him on the nose.
Judge Thomas O’Donnell said that Michael McDonagh was ‘a violent man’ and that while Bernie McDonagh may not have been the aggressor, he must ‘bear responsibility for his criminal actions’.
Michael McDonagh was sentenced to 18 months in jail for each of the two charges of threatening to kill and six months for assault on Bernie McDonagh. All sentences were to run concurrent, meaning a total of 18 months in jail.
Bernie McDonagh was sentenced to 12 months in jail. Both sentences were deferred until January 7, 2013 to allow both men to sort out family and business affairs.