A Dublin man who shot dead a mother-of-one after storming into her flat and leaving her in a wheelchair has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Jean McCarthy, 33, had subjected neighbor Sinead Connolly, 34, to a campaign of abuse in which he regularly called her a “whore”, grabbed her by the throat and spat in her face.
McCarthy also told her he would “leave her in a body bag.”
He had pleaded guilty to attempted murder when he shot her repeatedly at her home, Bernard Curtis House, Bluebell Road, Dublin 12, on March 6 last year.
He also pled guilty to possession of a semi-automatic pistol with intent to endanger life on the same day and possession of ammunition.
At the Central Criminal Court, Judge Paul McDermott today handed down the 15-year sentence, commenting on the extreme nature of the violence, the undercurrent of threats and bullying, and the ease with which McCarthy was able to obtain a gun.
Reacting to the decision, Ms Connolly said: “It’s overwhelming but I’m happy with what he’s gotten. Of course I think someone like that should be locked away forever but considering he pled guilty I thought he was going to get 12 years but he ended up being 16 so I’m really happy with that.”
An earlier court session heard that McCarthy was Ms Connolly’s neighbor and lived next door to her in a block of flats in Bluebell and that they had long known each other from living and growing up in the area together.
It was heard that McCarthy had shown some level of aggression towards her in the previous months and would “slap” his arm from her and call out their names in front of their eight-year-old daughter. He routinely called her a “whore,” grabbed her by the neck, and spat in her face.
One of the last times Ms Connolly met him before March 6, he told her he would leave her in a body bag and she said she felt he wanted her dead, the court has been told.
On March 6, the court said, preparations were made for a birthday party and arrangements were made for four friends to telephone Ms Connolly.
Ms Connolly told Gardaí that because of the escalating situation and concerns for her safety with McCarthy, she wanted her four friends to “knock on the defendant’s home” and “beg him to stop”.
CCTV footage showed Ms Connolly’s four male friends knocking at McCarthy’s flat and returning when there was no answer.
The court heard that McCarthy had telephone contact with two other men, and a short time later a man carrying a gun met McCarthy at his home.
McCarthy himself was injured when the gun went off during the surrender.
Immediately afterwards, McCarthy went to Connolly and shot her.
She was in the living room and her four friends were in the kitchen with her daughter. The kitchen door was barricaded and the child placed under the table.
McCarthy shot five times. Mrs Connolly was standing when she was hit but eventually fell onto the couch. One of the bullets went through her body while she was lying on the couch before penetrating the wall behind her.
It was that shot that made Mrs Connolly paraplegic.
An ambulance was called for Ms Connolly and McCarthy himself sought medical treatment for the injury he sustained when the gun went off while it was being handed to him.
He was arrested there and told Gardai he had been threatened and harassed by certain individuals in the Bluebell area for over two years.
A statement from Ms Connolly’s treating doctor says she sustained multiple gunshot wounds to her upper body.
She suffered significant bleeding and after the operation it was found that she was unable to move her lower limbs.
A CT scan showed a spinal fracture in her upper spine and she was transferred to the spine department at Mater Hospital. The court heard the injuries she sustained are unlikely to be reversible and have changed her life.
She remains at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, the court heard.
Ms Connolly’s daughter is being cared for by her sister and the victim has never been able to return to her home.
As a result of her injury, she is paraplegic and requires a wheelchair for all of her mobility and must use alternative methods to manage her bladder and bowels.
Her life expectancy is also reduced as a result of the injury.
McCarthy’s defense attorney, Brendan Grehan SC, told the previous court session that what “stands out” about this case is that Ms Connolly was left in a wheelchair with various medical complications.
He said things “boiled over” between Ms Connolly and McCarthy that day and there was “something of an argument going on in the background”.
Mr Grehan called the CCTV footage of the four men shouting at McCarthy’s door “very ominous”.
He said it showed the men banging on McCarthy’s door, waiting outside but getting no response. He said a man could be seen holding up his fingers “like a pistol or a gun shield.”
Mr Grehan said McCarthy told gardaí that in desperation he was given a firearm but never planned to use it and just wanted to protect himself and his home.
He said he never intended for anyone to get hurt and just wanted to show them the gun so they would leave him alone.
“He’s disgusted with himself for what happened. It was never planned to go into the apartment. It just happened,” the attorney said.
At the previous hearing, Mr Grehan read out a letter of apology from McCarthy, which said: “I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Sinead and her family following the incident we found ourselves in last month.
“I am disgusted by my actions that day and want you to know that I had no intention of entering your home before I was accidentally shot.
“I have lost all sense of reality and if I had known you and your daughter were at the flat I would have gone straight to the hospital as I now know that is what I should have done.
“I can never undo what happened. All I can do is sincerely apologize to you and your family and to tell you that I never intended things to get this far. The whole situation was a complete nightmare from start to finish and will haunt me until the day I die.”
In her victim statement, Sinead Connolly described being at home with her daughter and some friends when McCarthy “burst into her home with a gun.”
“I’ve been shot three times and as a result I’m paralyzed, paralyzed forever,” she said.
“Another serious consequence of this heinous act is that I am highly dependent on a variety of medicines and almost 100 percent dependent on other people, both medical workers and my family.
She said McCarthy’s “delusional sense of power turned him into the epitome of a bully who subjected both me and my daughter to this bullying.”
She said that since this attempt on her life, she has struggled with constant medical problems, near-constant infections, low blood pressure and panic attacks.
“The pain is not limited to the physical. He’s obviously emotional, both for me and for my daughter.
“We had to separate and I had to give up my role as a parent and my responsibility for the well-being of my daughter. It’s extremely difficult because we’re so close.
“My daughter had to leave home and change schools, but no child should ever have to see her bloodied mother lying unconscious on the floor.
“All these things that we take for granted like lifting up our children, going to the sea, swimming, climbing, dancing together are all beyond my physical abilities. Any plans we had were thwarted by Dean McCarthy,” the statement said.
McCarthy was sentenced to 16 years, with one suspended sentence, for attempted murder and eight and six years, which will expire simultaneously, for possession of the gun and ammunition.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/dean-mccarthy-jailed-for-15-years-for-shooting-mum-of-one-sinead-connolly-im-happy-with-what-he-got-41588818.html Dean McCarthy sentenced to 15 years in prison for shooting dead Sinead Connolly’s mother: ‘I’m happy with what he got’