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‘My son was murdered in front of me’: Mother tells of pain after Enniskillen street fight death


John Paul McDonagh.

John Paul McDonagh.

Joseph Joyce

Joseph Joyce


John Paul McDonagh.

The mother of an 18-year-old who died following a street fight in Enniskillen has tearfully told a jury: "My son was murdered in front of me."

John Paul McDonagh sustained a fatal wound to his lower left leg following a violent altercation on April 11 2020.

Joseph Joyce was charged with murdering Mr McDonagh and with four other offences arising from the incident which was captured on CCTV.

The 32-year, with an address at Clon Elagh in Londonderry, is currently standing trial at Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast.

He has denied all the charges and claimed he was acting in self-defence in the wake of an attack from three McDonagh brothers.

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The deceased's mother Rose McDonagh was called to give evidence at the hearing, which is now in its second week.

As she sat in the witness box, Joyce sat with his head bowed in the dock.

Mrs McDonagh confirmed that in April 2020 she and five of her children lived at Drumawill Gardens in Enniskillen.

When asked what her and her family were doing on April 11, she said they were having a party in the back garden, enjoying a BBQ, drinking and listening to music.

Crown barrister Barra McGrory QC then queried Mrs McDonagh about an alleged altercation with Joseph Joyce - who at that time lived at neighbouring Coolcullen Meadow.

Saying her and Joyce's gardens backed onto each other, Mrs McDonagh said: "Joe Joyce came over my back fence with a slash hook, waving it at my family. He was roaring and giving out."

"He was very angry. He was saying he was the boss and that."


Joseph Joyce

Joseph Joyce

Joseph Joyce

Mrs McDonagh said that following this, her son John ran out after Joyce and that her other sons Gerard and Jimmy "tried to get him back."

CCTV footage of a street fight between three McDonagh brothers and Joseph Joyce has already been played to the jury.

In the footage, Mrs McDonagh can be seen standing amongst the two parties, who clashed outside Joyce's house.

When asked what occurred on the street, Mrs McDonagh said "it all happened so fast ... I tried to stop it. I tried to get in the middle and get him to stop."

Confirming she was referring to Joyce, the witness said: "He had the slash hook still in his hand. He also had a bottle of stuff that he squirted over my boys."

"I begged Joe to stop. I pleaded with him. My son was murdered in front of me."

Under cross-examination by Des Fahy QC, the barrister representing Joyce, Mrs McDonagh was asked if her sons had armed themselves with weapons before walking the short distance from their house to Joyce's.

She said she didn't see Gerard or Jimmy carrying anything, but said John might have had "a bit of a yoke."

Mr Fahy also asked her about the incident at her back fence which occurred just before the street fight.

Saying "a big man came over my back fence with a slash hook", she denied hearing her sons tell Joyce 'we are coming over to kill you and burn your house with your family in it."

When asked if any of her sons issued this threat, she said "that never happened." And when queried about what she saw in Coolcullen Meadows, Mrs McDonagh said "Joe Joyce was waiting on the road, waiting for my young fellas to come over."

"I was pleading with Joe to stop. I was begging him to stop. He had a big slash hook and was trying to kill my children with it."

Also called to give evidence today was a woman who in April 2022 lived at Coolcullen Meadow.

Describing what occurred outside her house as "pandemonium", the witness said that prior to the street fight she heard loud country music coming from Drumawill Gardens and "shouting."

Following this, the woman said she "looked up the street and saw three men coming down the street with weapons" whilst Joyce was standing at the bottom of the street "with a big long stick with a hook on the end of it.

"He wasn't really doing anything with it. These guys were coming down the street to attack him and yeah, they came down and attacked him."

Asked if she observed anything else, the woman said she saw one of the three men who walked down the street "grabbing his leg and he came up and lay down on the footpath in front of my house."

She also recalled that a short time later the police arrived and performed CPR on this male.

At hearing.

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