Jonathan O’Donnell, aged 19, from Boula, Portumna, has been sentenced to five years in prison with the final two suspended for threatening to kill his former 19-year-old girlfriend and mother of his son.
O’Donnell, who has his son’s name tattooed on his neck, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in April to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to the girl on September 19 last year. He also pleaded guilty to harassing the mother of his child on dates between September 13 and 27.
Garda Olivia Markham told the sentence hearing the victim called to the garda station on September 25 last year and showed her a large number of threatening text messages from her ex.
“The volume and content of the texts were alarming to me. The texts threatened serious harm to the victim, her brother and any other man in her company,” said Garda Markham.
She said the victim ended a relationship with O’Donnell last July and moved home to live with her mother. After that, the threats from O’Donnell to harm her increased.
The accused was arrested and questioned by gardai on October 3 and made further admissions to them.
During one interview O’Donnell told gardaí that if he ever saw any man in the victim’s company he would kill him. “I’m going to cut his head off his shoulders... That is not a threat, it’s a promise,” O’Donnell had said.
In some texts to the victim, O’Donnell promised her on his child’s life that he would cut someone up and would torture her sexually, like in a horror-action movie.
Garda Markham said the accused was taken into custody and has been on remand at Castlerea Prison since.
O’Donnell was charged but continued to harass and threaten the victim from prison. He wrote to her and contacted her by phone, threatening her to drop the charges or he would harm her. Gardaí contacted the prison service and they told him to desist, but he rang the victim no later than last weekend, Garda Markham said.
“He wants her to drop the charges and he asked her to come into court, holding his hand and tell the judge that it was all a mistake.”
The garda handed a long, typed list of the most violent and extreme threats O’Donnell had made to the victim, which she did not want to read out in court.
She said they threatened serious physical harm, and one ended with “You are going to wish and pray you never met me. I’m going to cut you down.” Threatening to get a drug addict to harm her, O’Donnell told the victim: “You will see what I mean by living in pain and fear. You will have a mouthful of nothing and a bellyful of teeth. He will do it for a bit of ‘gear’,” he said.
Garda Markham read the victim’s impact statement to the court.
The girl said she had been left traumatised by the accused and she often woke up at night in a cold sweat.
“He is torturing me in my dreams. I have to get up and check my son is OK. I was afraid he would get me and my son. He blames me for everything that happened to him. It’s like I got old overnight,” she said.
Conal McCarthy, defending, said he wished to apologise in open court to the victim on behalf of his client.
He said both were very young and the break-up had been acrimonious, but that, he said, was no excuse for O’Donnell’s behaviour.
Judge Rory McCabe said these were offences of the most serious kind. “There is nothing I have heard to suggest that he was making empty threats. He intended to cause serious harm.”
He said the appropriate sentence for threatening to kill was five years, with the final two suspended for three years. He imposed a concurrent, four-year sentence for the harassment charge with the final year suspended.
The sentences were backdated to October 2.