A dangerous thug who launched a machete attack on a police patrol car while on bail accused of the murder of Dungannon man Eamonn Hughes (49) has been handed an 18 month jail sentence.
William McDonagh (28) carried out the attack outside his home at Kew Gardens in Ballymena, Co Antrim on July 11 2010.
Neil Connor, prosecuting, told Antrim Crown Court that when police answered a fake call-out they were confronted by McDonagh armed with a machete and another man wielding a pick-axe handle which he used to smash the front windscreen.
One of the officers was in such as state of fear that he pointed his gun at McDonagh, who refused to drop the knife, telling the officer that “he would just have to shoot him”.
McDonagh then used the knife to smash the car’s windows. He handed himself into police the following day, and later pleaded guilty to affray, criminal damage and possessing an offensive weapon.
At the time he was on bail accused of the murder of Eamonn Hughes who was stabbed to death in September 2008 as he walked home in Dungannon from his daughter’s 18th birthday party.
At the end of the trial in 2011, McDonagh was acquitted of murder but convicted of affray, and after being deemed dangerous by Justice Treacy, was jailed for eight years with a further five to be served on licence.
Martin Murray (26), of Windmill Drive in Dungannon, must serve at least 18 years of a life sentence after he was convicted of Mr Hughes’ murder.
On Monday, Judge Desmond Marrinan said he did not assess McDonagh as posing such a high level of danger to the public, having received information which outlined how he was a drug-free prisoner, was remorseful and had insight into his behaviour and had undertaken numerous courses while in custody.
Ordering McDonagh to spend half his 18-month in jail and half on licence, the judge also said he did not think it would be ‘fair’ to make it consecutive to the eight-year sentence although he would have been entitled to do so.