Life for boxer who beat wife to death

A life sentence has been handed down to a 36-year-old “bare-knuckle boxer” for murdering his wife in an assault that lasted “one hour and 20 minutes” in their home in Dundalk.

Michael McDonagh of College Manor, Hoey’s Lane, Dundalk, Co Louth, yesterday pleaded guilty before the Central Criminal Court to the murder of his wife of 15 years, Jacqueline McDonagh, on August 29, 2012.

The court she had made several attempts to call her father. Her mobile phone was found under her body.

Before Justice Paul Carney, Det Insp Patrick Marry told the court about a call being placed to the ambulance emergency services in Dundalk in August 2012.

On arrival the ambulance personnel found an unresponsive female with “suspicious injuries”.

Caroline Biggs, defending, told the Central Criminal Court Mr McDonagh was “in a very distressed state” and pleaded with the ambulance service to help.

CCTV footage from a number of hours previous to the murder show the father of three getting out of his car in good form and “dancing”.

The family had been at a party previously and alcohol had been consumed. The defence told the court the couple had been in “good form” at the party.

Ms McDonagh was found on her back, with her feet facing the front door; she had no clothes on except for underwear.

Det Marry told the court there was a gash to her forehead and a lot of blood on the walls and ceiling.

An autopsy found extensive and severe injuries with extensive bruising to much of the body surface areas.

There were pattern bruises to her left thigh which would have resulted from blows “with a baton-like instrument”, the court heard. She also had three large penetrating wounds to her scalp.

The court heard there were wounds to her left forearm and penetrating wounds to her shins. Her injuries came from an implement with long handles used to “trim off a lawn” which was found at the scene.

Traces of steroids were found in McDonagh’s system 52 hours after the murder. The defence told the court there was no finding that this would have caused the offences but it “could have had a bearing on his mind”.

Det Marry said it was “hard to know” what set off the assault.

A victim impact statement was read on behalf of Ms McDonagh’s family by Det Insp Marry, where she was described as “the apple of her father’s eyes”.

McDonagh was “physically and mentally cruel” to his wife, the court heard. McDonagh was described as a “domineering and controlling man”.

Ms McDonagh always loved her name as she was named after Jacqueline Kennedy. However, McDonagh refused to refer to her as anything but “Jack”.

Despite his “unpredictable violent behaviour”, the court heard Ms McDonagh would always return to her husband as he threatened to hurt her immediate family.

The statement said her children meant the world to her and brought her great amounts of joy and were according to her, her greatest achievement in life.

“We died when Jacqueline died, we now have the guilt that our life will never move on. Jacqueline will never be forgotten, she lives on in her special children.”

Justice Paul Carney handed down a life sentence dated to September 1, 2012.

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