Garda used as ‘human shield’ from hatchet teen

Bernard McDonagh: 'Took advantage of confusion'.

One garda was used as a “human shield” from a hatchet-wielding 16-year-old while gardaí were powerless to prevent another man slashing his victim 11 times across the face and back with a Stanley knife in broad daylight.

At Ennis Circuit Court yesterday, counsel for the State, Stephen Coughlan BL said “chaos and mayhem” ensued at the Maid of Erin roundabout in Ennis in an violent incident sparked by a 46-year-old man ramming three vehicles — including a Garda patrol car — with a 10-year-old boy in the back of the ramming vehicle.

Det Garda John Casey said that Bernard McDonagh, formerly of Ashline, Ennis, drove around the roundabout 10 times against traffic before ramming his car into a stationary patrol car.

The flashpoint on Oct 14 arose from a dispute between Traveller families, the McDonaghs and the Dohertys, and followed a confrontation between the sides at a wedding on Oct 11.

Det Gda John Casey said McDonagh had earlier rammed the Hiace van containing three members of the Doherty family and a car driven by a female visitor to Ennis on the day.

Describing the events at around 6pm on the day, Det Casey said McDonagh Sr’s car had become wedged on a traffic island and he then got out and punched John Doherty. Two gardaí at the scene then arrested McDonagh Sr.

However, minutes later, McDonagh’s son, Bernie McDonagh Jr, aged 30; Christopher McDonagh, aged 37, of Childers Rd, Ennis; and a third male, aged 16, arrived in a van that broke a Garda cordon. The three were armed with a Stanley knife, an iron bar, and a hatchet.

Det Casey said the three ran across the roundabout and as the 16-year-old with the hatchet went toward Martin Doherty, Mr Doherty grabbed Garda Martin O’Brien to put the garda between the attacker and himself, using the garda as “a human shield”.

Det Casey said the young person was arrested by gardaí at the scene.

Counsel said that “Bernie McDonagh Jnr took advantage of the confusion to launch the attack on John Doherty”.

In the attack, John Doherty sustained a scar from his left eye to behind his left ear and 10 long slash wounds to his back from the Stanley knife used by Bernie McDonagh Jr.

In the case, the four McDonaghs have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges from the incident.

Judge Gerald Keyes said that he regarded the offences as “very serious” and remanded all four on continuing bail to Sept 23.


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