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SASKO LAZAROV via ROLLINGNEW.IE
Courts

Domestic abuser gets 12 years and six months for killing partner

A pathologist said that bruises on the victim were “more likely” from direct blows than from a fall.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 28th 2023, 4:05 PM

THE SISTER OF a woman who was killed by a “deranged monster” who had beaten, threatened and controlled his victim during their relationship has called for stricter laws on coercive control and domestic abuse.

Martin Hayes was today sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison by Mr Justice Paul McDermott for the manslaughter of his partner, Amadea McDermott.

Justice McDermott said the killing was clearly a case of domestic violence and he noted that during her life, Hayes had tracked Amadea McDermott’s movements using a secret app on her phone.

He had also made “menacing videos” in which he challenged Amadea McDermott regarding Hayes’s untrue and unfounded belief that Amadea McDermott was involved in an incestuous relationship.

The judge further noted the recent bruises on Amadea McDermott’s body as noted by a pathologist following her death and evidence that Hayes had a history of aggressive and violent behaviour towards his victim.

Speaking outside court, Eucharia McDermott described her sister as a “kind, caring, funny, loving, beautiful and amazing mother, daughter, sister, auntie and friend”.

She thanked gardaí and the prosecution team who had, she said, “helped to convict this violent, sick, evil, twisted, deranged monster.”

She said Hayes had told “lie after lie without a shred of evidence” in his testimony to the trial when he falsely alleged that Amadea McDermott had caused her own death by stabbing herself.

“Throughout the trial he showed no remorse for taking our beautiful sister’s life away from her and her family,” she said.

She said Hayes was “quite proud of his actions as he listed out the amount of bruises, one by one, on my sister’s body, as if he were keeping count”.

While Amadea was “dying on the floor, gasping for breath,” she said Hayes told the victim to “get the fuck up”.

Hours later, he “had a laugh and a joke… as if nothing happened” when being interviewed by gardaí, Ms McDermott said.

“This is a sick, violent and evil monster. When he was cross-examined by Sean Gillane [senior counsel for the prosecution], the coward, thug and abuser was quite confident and proud, boasting: ‘If somebody hits me, I’ll hit them back, I have every right to do so’.”

She said that although the family will “never get our beautiful Amadea back, we have protected many women from his evil, violent hands”.

“In my opinion we have saved lives from his evil hands.”

She added: “The physical abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse she endured and her violent death will haunt us to the day we pass.

“For every wound there is a scar and every scar tells a story. We strongly urge our nation to stand up against coercive control and domestic abuse.

“Whether it be physical abuse, mental abuse or emotional abuse, we feel the laws in this country are too lenient and need to be changed urgently to help protect and save lives.”

Grave digger Hayes, 34, was found not guilty of Amadea McDermott’s, 27, murder but guilty of manslaughter by the majority verdict of a Central Criminal Court jury earlier this month.

Hayes, with an address at Poddle Close, Crumlin, Dublin 12 had pleaded not guilty to murdering the mother of two at her home in Rathvale Drive, Ayrfield, Coolock on or about 20 July 2017.

He told the trial that his partner inflicted the injury on herself.

Justice Paul McDermott today said Hayes still maintains that he is guilty of no offence and therefore there is no evidence that he has any remorse for what he did.

The judge found that it was established beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence heard during the trial that Hayes stabbed Amadea McDermott once in the abdomen, causing her death.

The single stab wound tracked downwards through the abdominal wall and ended at the spine. It caused substantial blood loss that led to death.

The judge also noted bruises to Amadea McDermott’s limbs that a pathologist said were recently caused and bruises to her face that the pathologist said were “more likely” from direct blows than from a fall.

Those included bruises and grazes above her right eye, lip, temple and left jaw.

Mr Justice McDermott said the accused gave conflicting accounts of what led to the row but the judge noted that both had been drinking and taking cocaine before a row erupted.

The judge said he is satisfied that the cause of the row was Hayes’s “untrue and unfounded belief” that Amadea McDermott had been involved in an incestuous relationship.

He described this as an “obsession” and said he was satisfied that Hayes was the aggressor on the night.

He noted aggravating features including the “clear history of violence against the deceased”, and said the killing was “clearly an act of domestic violence, which is in itself an aggravating feature.”

Hayes’s use of alcohol and drugs was an exacerbating rather than mitigating factor given that it was “not out of character” for Hayes to be violent or aggressive towards Amadea McDermott when intoxicated.

The jury’s verdict means they were satisfied that Hayes stabbed his partner but they did not find that he had the intention to kill or cause serious injury, the judge said.

However, Justice McDermott noted that the infliction of the stab wound was “on any view highly reckless”.

He further noted that Hayes had created “menacing videos” in which he confronted Amadea with the untrue allegations regarding incest.

In one video, he said Amadea McDermott was “clearly in fear”.

The judge also noted Hayes’s demeanour in giving evidence during the trial, which he said showed his “underlying violent disposition, he was violent in language and in action”.

He said it was “rare to be given such a clear demonstration of this” in a trial but Hayes’s disposition was “shockingly clear to all but himself”.

The judge set a headline sentence of 14 years and noted there was only limited mitigation, such as Hayes’s work record as a gravedigger and his attempts to address his drug abuse issues.

Taking into account all matters, the judge set a sentence of 12 years and six months with no portion suspended.

He backdated the sentence to 4 April 2022 when Hayes first went into custody.

Predator

A sentencing hearing earlier this month heard from members of the deceased’s family, with one of the deceased’s sisters shouting at Hayes: “You are a coward, an active predator and an abuser of women. You hide against your insecurities through your fists.”

The eldest sister, Olivia Heffernan, said her sister’s life was stolen from her by Martin Hayes and that she knew the mother-of-two would never have taken her own life as she loved her family and children too much.

Heffernan said her sister was under the “coercive control” of the killer and when she saw Amadea lying “motionless and lifeless” in the hospital bed she was taken aback by the level of bruising “the gentle soul” had sustained.

“My instincts and gut feelings were 100 percent right about you”, she told Hayes.

Heffernan said “the hidden untraceable tracker” placed on her sister’s mobile phone by Hayes had blown her away and she described the defendant as an “active predator, luring and waiting for his next prey waiting to abuse”.

She accused Hayes of “concocting lies” against the McDermott family which she said were “accusations of incest”.

Raising her voice today Heffernan added: “To victims of domestic abuse everywhere around the world, stand up and be heard, don’t hide behind the fists of cowards”, saying if her sister had done this she would still be alive today.

Heffernan said her sister’s killer had shown no respect for her and that he had given evidence of still having access to her Instagram account.

“How deranged are you,” she asked.

Evidence

At a previous hearing, Detective Sergeant Anthony Maloney detailed the background to the case. He agreed with Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that the relationship between Hayes and Amadea had been ongoing for a number of years, where incidents of physical abuse and “a fair level of argumentation” arose from time to time.

Outlining the events that led up to the killing, Det Sgt Maloney said the defendant had made three calls to emergency services to attend the apartment in Coolock and also to members of Amadea’s family.

When medical personnel arrived they found Amadea in some distress having suffered a stab wound to the abdomen.

Gillane said Amadea was immediately brought to Beaumont Hospital and attempts were made to save her but unfortunately these efforts came to nought.

Gillane said the defendant told gardaí that an argument had started on the night when Amadea ran out of cocaine and alcohol.

Hayes also indicated to gardai that Amadea had lost control and grabbed a knife threatening to hurt herself, said the detective.

Hayes told gardaí that he had produced another knife at one point and retired to the bedroom to separate himself from Amadea, said Gillane.

The defendant told officers that he later returned to the living room where he found Amadea on the floor, indicating that the wound to her stomach was from self-harm.

Gillane said a post-mortem was carried out on the deceased where it was found that Amadea had died from a stab wound to the right side of the abdomen.

Former State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy was shown a knife during the trial which had been placed on a table in the living room and she told the jury it could have caused the injury.

“She also indicated no great force would have been required to cause the injury itself,” Gillane added.

Dr Cassidy had also given evidence of blunt force trauma to the deceased as well as indicating areas of fresh and old bruising on her body.

Gillane said the expert witness had told the jury that bruising to Amadea’s head, trunk and limbs could be due to a fall but that injuries to her face were more likely from direct blows.

Gillane said the investigation by gardai continued and Hayes was arrested on 8 October 2020 and detained until the next day but nothing of evidential value arose.

Counsel said the jury had heard evidence of text message exchanges between Hayes and Amadea in the run up to the incident, where the deceased had indicated that the defendant had “sick thoughts in his head”.

The jury also saw recorded video clips of an interaction between the couple, specifically of an untrue belief Hayes had about an inappropriate relationship that Amadea was having with a relative.

“In one of those clips he was attempting to get Amadea to admit to it,” said the detective.

The court heard that Hayes has 29 previous convictions, of which 27 related to road traffic offences.