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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

'I'll never forgive him': Family of one-punch assault victim describe how lives have been 'ripped apart'

Jonathan Dargan (49) was found guilty of killing Patrick Mullally by a jury last November.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/

THE FAMILY OF a man who died after a one-punch assault by a nightclub doorman has told a court their lives were ripped apart by the fatal attack.

After a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last November Jonathan Dargan (49) was found guilty of killing Patrick Mullally (56) by knocking him to the ground with a single punch.

The deceased and another man, Shane Cunningham, had approached Dargan on the Harold’s Cross Road in Dublin at around 4am on 6 March, 2016 to intervene in a row he was having with his girlfriend.

The two men and others had been out celebrating Mullally’s retirement from Guinness weeks earlier, when they walked up to Dargan.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Dargan threw a number of powerful punches at the men.

The deceased put his hands up to shield himself but at least one punch connected with him, shattering his jaw and cheekbone and knocking him to the ground.

A witness told the trial last November that he heard Dargan shouting “bang, bang” as he punched the men.

This witness, a passing cyclist, also said that when he had earlier stopped at the rowing couple, Dargan had told him to “fuck off and mind his own business” and that “he’d kill him or stamp on his head on the ground”.

The deceased suffered a subdural haemorrhage and brain trauma due to a blunt trauma to the face and head and died the next day.

The defendant, a Taekwon-do instructor who has worked as a doorman at Lillie’s Bordello nightclub for two decades, admitted “lashing out” with a punch.

He claimed that he was surrounded by the men and felt in fear and was acting in self defence.

Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, told Judge Pauline Codd that his client accepted the jury’s verdict and that he indicated this to gardaí in court on the day the guilty verdict was delivered.

Accused very intoxicated

Dargan of Belfry Manor, Citywest in Dublin denied the unlawful killing of Mullally.

He also denied assault causing harm to Cunningham and to the niece of the deceased, Lauren Mullally, during the same incident.

The judge adjourned the case to Wednesday for sentencing after saying she needed time to read reports handed into court.

He has no previous conviction and the court heard his own mother was killed by a neighbour a few years earlier. The killer was later found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Counsel said his client was not a person who drank regularly, but on the night he was very intoxicated, having consumed cocktails and double vodka drinks. He also said that alcohol was not an excuse or a defence but it was a factor in the events.

Reading from her own victim impact statement, the widow of the deceased Joan Shields repeatedly broke down in tears as she described the the effects of the “brutal” killing.

She said bringing their young daughter in the hospital to see her father one last time was the hardest thing she has had to do.

She also described having to wait over three years for the case to come to trial.

When it did, her daughter asked “why is there a trial, did he not admit he hit daddy?”

Begged for forgiveness

Shields described reading a newspaper interview a week after the killing in which Dargan begged for forgiveness.

She said the deceased would now miss watching his daughter growing up and she said “I’ll never be able to forgive him for that”.

Courtney Mullaly told the court that the violent death of her uncle left many of the family suffering from anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She described the gut-wrenching loss and sadness the family felt, and said some family members had experienced suicidal thoughts since the killing.

She described the deceased as a “devoted Dad, caring brother, fun uncle” and “one of the happiest, friendliest persons you’d ever meet”.

She said the night of his retirement party was meant to be the first day of a new life, but that it instead became a shattering nightmare.

“He was killed trying to do the chivalrous thing. One person ripped several lives apart with his bare hands,” she said.

Counsel for Dargan handed in a number of character references from family and employers and contacts from his role as a martial arts instructor.

He said his client accepted fully his responsibility for the death of the victim, but said he did not intend to kill him.

When he heard of the death, he immediately conveyed his apologies to the family.

Last November, the jury took a little over four hours to return a unanimous guilty verdict on the manslaughter charge.

Comments have been closed as sentencing in the case is yet to take place.

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About the author:

Declan Brennan

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