Dad of two said girlfriend ‘has the coronavirus’

By Brion Hoban

A father-of-two who announced that his girlfriend “has the coronavirus” before attempting to steal handbags from two women has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

James McDonagh (33) later assaulted a man in a separate incident, during which he threw a traffic cone at the victim.

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Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

McDonagh of Heatherview Close, Tallaght pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of attempted robbery at South Anne Street, Dublin 1, and assault causing harm at Parnell Street, Dublin 1, both on March 15, 2020.

Garda Cillian Meyler told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, two women were returning from a trip to IKEA and were unloading items from a car when they were approached by the accused and two others.

Garda Meyler said McDonagh, who was intoxicated, told the women that his girlfriend “has the coronavirus”.

McDonagh then tried to take a handbag from one of the women, kicking and punching her when she refused to let go.

The second woman intervened, leading McDonagh to attempt to steal her handbag. During the struggle, both women fell to the ground and the incident was recorded by a woman living in a nearby apartment.

Later that day, Patrick Sylvester walked past McDonagh while he was grabbing a woman. McDonagh began shouting at Mr Sylvester and proceeded to punch him in the face.

During this assault, McDonagh picked up a traffic cone and threw it at the victim.

In interview with gardai, McDonagh said he accepted he had been drinking that day and that he had previous alcohol problems.

McDonagh has 55 previous convictions, including convictions for assault causing harm, assault and public order offences. He has two children.

Garda Meyler agreed with Marc Thompson BL, defending, that his client has difficulty with alcohol and while he was aggressive with gardai at the time of his arrest, he complied with the investigation once he sobered up.

Judge Martin Nolan said that it “seems this man shouldn’t drink”. He said that if McDonagh wanted to reform “he can do one simple thing, which is stop drinking”.

Judge Nolan sentenced McDonagh to two-and-a-half years imprisonment.

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