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Dublin: 3°C Friday 26 February 2021

New documentary asks what turned these teenagers into killers

Some of the most brutal murders in this country were carried out by teens who showed little remorse afterwards.

Source: TV3

DANIEL MCDONNELL WAS 17-years-old when he shot teenager Melanie McCarthy McNamara dead in February 2012 in a case of mistaken identity.

He had meant to kill the teenage girl’s fiancé, in a notorious tit-for-tat gang feud in Tallaght, Dublin. After he was caught, McDonnell wrote a letter to his brother from St Patrick’s Institution where he was being detained.

He made several detailed references to the killing, including; “Two in the head, the b***h is dead.”

Criminologist John O’Keeffe, who features in a new TV3 documentary on teen killers, said the letter shows no concern about the fact that this could be used against him as evidence.

“He just didn’t care, because he made his mark,” he explained.

Other than McDonnell’s self-incriminating letters from prison, and graffiti he wrote on a cell wall, there was no other evidence against him. They eventually led to his conviction and he received a mandatory life sentence.

The documentary, which airs tomorrow night at 9pm, looks at four cases and asks what is going on with society that makes the most vulnerable turn into the most violent.


One of the most tragic and inexplicable cases featured is the murder of 14-year-old Darragh Conroy in Laois. He was killed by 15-year-old Darren Goodwin with a metal hammer taken from a metalwork class at school.

Ireland's Teen Killers on TV3 - Darren Goodwin was 15 when he killed Darragh Conroy (murder) Darren Goodwin. Source: TV3

Goodwin had grown up never knowing his father and when his behaviour took a turn for the worse in his early teens, his mother believed he would benefit from a strong male influence. She introduced him to his father and sent him to live with him just outside the town.

His behaviour then spiralled out of control. He attempted suicide and at one point told his classmates he would “love to kill someone that nobody cares about, someone like Darragh Conroy”.

In November 2003, Darragh’s body was found in an area of waste-land called Smith’s Field on the banks of the Owenass river. He had been struck six times with a metal hammer, five of the blows administered while he lay on the ground.

Later that evening, Goodwin confessed to classmates what he had done and told them where the murder weapon was. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, however the judge used his discretion, to review the sentence after ten years. In 2013, his sentence was reviewed and he is set to be released in July this year.

The documentary, ‘Ireland’s Teen Killers’ airs tomorrow on TV3 at 9pm.

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