This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
Dublin: 5 °C Monday 24 February, 2020

Martial arts instructor jailed for five-and-a-half years for killing retiree in one-punch assault

Jonathan Dargan was found guilty of killing Patrick Mullally last November.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/

A PROFESSIONAL MARTIAL arts instructor who killed an innocent passerby with a single punch in a street assault in Dublin has been jailed for five and a half years.

Jonathan Dargan (49) was found guilty of killing Patrick Mullally (56) by knocking him to the ground with a punch, after the victim and another man had stopped to intervene in a drunken row with his girlfriend.

The deceased and another man Shane Cunningham had been out celebrating the former’s retirement from Guinness weeks earlier, when they encountered Dargan on the Harold’s Cross Road in Dublin at around 4am on 6 March, 2016.

When Dargan began “swinging” punches, the deceased put his hands up to shield himself. At least one punch connected with him, shattering his jaw and cheekbone and knocking him to the ground.

Mullally 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 Taekwondo instructor who has worked as a doorman at Lillie’s Bordello nightclub for two decades, admitted to “lashing out” with a punch.

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

Defence rejected

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Dargan shouted “bang bang” as he threw “fairly powerful” punches at the men.

Justice Pauline Codd said this was a particularly chilling aspect of the case and evidence of a man who was in control of the situation and not somebody in fear.

She said the jury had rejected Dargan’s defence that he was in fear and felt he was being surrounded, and that the independent CCTV evidence also showed this not to be the case.

She noted that Dargan’s martial arts training meant he had a knowledge of the force and impact of his own strength and capacity.

She said for a man with this strength and capacity to strike a defenceless and intoxicated man was an aggravating factor.

The judge also said the victims were entirely innocent and had approached Dargan to assist a woman and to “do the honourable thing”.

The violence was unwarranted and Dargan was in a state of intoxication and an angry mood.

Mother fatally shot

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

The judge noted in mitigation that Dargan had led a blameless life up to this point and that he had shown great support and strength to his family when his own mother was the innocent victim of a fatal shooting by a neighbour.

She suspended the final six months of a six year prison term.

Dargan of Belfry Manor, Citywest in Dublin denied the unlawful killing of Mullally. He also denied assault causing harm to Cunningham and to Mullally’s niece, Lauren Mullally, during the same incident.

He has no previous convictions 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.

At the sentence hearing on Monday Vincent Heneghan SC, defending, told the judge that his client accepts the jury verdict and that he indicated this to gardaí in court on the day the guilty verdict was delivered.

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 alcohol was not an excuse or a defence but it was a factor in the events.

Begged for forgiveness

Reading from her own victim impact statement, Mullaly’s widow 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 and 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?”

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

She said Mullaly will now miss watching their daughter grow up and said “I’ll never be able to forgive him for that”.

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

She described the gut wrenching loss and sadness of the family grief and said some family members have experienced suicidal thoughts.

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

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

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

He said his client accepted fully his responsibility for the death of the victim but 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. After deliberating for another hour the jury returned a majority verdict on the charge of assaulting Cunningham.

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article

About the author:

Declan Brennan

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel