Belfast Telegraph

Serial offender McDonagh ‘drove while drunk with his four children in the vehicle’

A judge has denied a bail application for a 32-year-old man with a history of absconding upon release, and breaching bail so often that G4S had withdrawn its services
A judge has denied a bail application for a 32-year-old man with a history of absconding upon release, and breaching bail so often that G4S had withdrawn its services

By Staff Reporter

A judge has denied a bail application for a 32-year-old man with a history of absconding upon release, and breaching bail so often that G4S had withdrawn its services.

Christopher James McDonagh (32) from Beech Hill, Cavanaleck, faces a number of charges.

He is accused of driving with excess alcohol from Antrim to Fermanagh during the night last August with his four children in the car, one of whom was just a baby.

Enniskillen Magistrates Court heard that the family had been staying at a hotel in Crumlin but that McDonagh took the children away, abandoning his wife in the hotel.

Aside from the matter currently before the court, McDonagh faces nine other sets of charges, with a total of 26 offences, some of which were described as serious.

A video-link bail application was mounted at the court, where defence lawyers put forward a Republic of Ireland address if he was released.

Objecting, a police officer said McDonagh had multiple bail breaches on record, to the extent that G4S had withdrawn its services.

She said that on August 26 last year police received a 999 call of a domestic incident in a hotel room occupied by the couple and their four children. This calmed down and McDonagh's wife declined assistance.

But a few hours later McDonagh's wife contacted police saying he had driven their children away. Aware he was intoxicated, she was extremely concerned for the children's welfare.

McDonagh rang police asking them to check on his wife at the hotel who was threatening to self-harm, telling officers "her brain is all f***ed", the court heard. At around 4.30am officers encountered McDonagh's car traveling along the A4 in Enniskillen at excessive speed, weaving over the central lines and going through two red lights. McDonagh parked in an alleyway and was arrested.

Enquiries revealed he had allegedly punched his wife in the face, although she refused to make a complaint.

McDonagh was charged with assaulting his wife and motoring offences including driving while unfit through drink or drugs, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and without insurance.

Having been released on bail McDonagh fled, and was only arrested at Belfast City Airport on June 24 this year, when he was remanded in custody.

The officer told the court: "We believe there is risk to the victim amid concerns over domestic violence. If released he may not return."

A defending lawyer said McDonagh's wife had signed a declaration saying she was not assaulted.

He said: "If released, I suggest a significant cash surety would incentivise him to return. Instructions provided point toward my client's innocence. He wants to clear his name. As it stands, there is no answerable case involving the partner."

But District Judge Michael Ranaghan said: "I don't believe if released he has any intention of returning."

McDonagh was remanded in continuing custody to appear again by video-link next month.

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