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'In just 58 senseless seconds our lives changed': widow of murdered Adrian Donohoe says family will never recover

Widow of murdered garda says family will never recover as NI man Aaron Brady told he will spend 39 years in jail

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Adrian with his wife Caroline

Adrian with his wife Caroline

Jailed: Aaron Brady who was sentenced for the murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe

Jailed: Aaron Brady who was sentenced for the murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe

Adrian with his wife Caroline

The wife of murdered a detective garda murdered by a Co Armagh man who was sentenced yesterday has told how her family's life changed forever "in just 58 senseless seconds".

Caroline Donohoe, also a garda, was at the scene of the murder at Lordship Credit Union in Co Louth less than an hour after her husband Adrian was shot dead.

As Crossmaglen killer Aaron Brady (29) was told he will spend the next 39 years of his life behind bars, victim impact statements were read at Dublin's Central Criminal Court from Mr Donohoe's heartbroken family and colleagues.

In her statement, Mrs Donohoe said: "We had a loving, happy family, everything was just perfect but in just 58 senseless seconds everything changed forever.

"I will never recover from what I had to see at Lordship that night.

"Sometimes I can't get the images out of my mind."

She said there were "absolutely no words" to express the impact of the murder on her and their two children.

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Jailed: Aaron Brady who was sentenced for the murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe

Jailed: Aaron Brady who was sentenced for the murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe

Jailed: Aaron Brady who was sentenced for the murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe

They will miss having their daddy at all the firsts in their lives, such as communions and confirmations.

A statement from Mr Donohoe's parents, Hugh and Peggy Donohoe, was read to the court by his father. He struggled to fight back tears as he paid tribute to his son.

"He brought so much joy to our lives. He never forgot his mother's birthday or Mother's Day. He was as good a son as you could ask for. We miss him every day," he said.

He said his son would like to surprise them, including by bringing his sibling home from abroad for a birthday surprise.

"He loved to organise surprises for us, bringing home his brother from abroad to surprise his mother on her 60th birthday.

"He always wanted the best for us and looked to make our lives easier at every opportunity," he said.

"It's hard to accept that such a good man would come across such evil on that cold, wet night. From that day forward, it's impossible to find joy in life."

He said some days were so hard, adding that life is such a struggle and not worth living.

"We visit his grave every week which gives us some comfort, but it's no place for him, he should be here with us living his life," he said.

A statement was read by Mr Donohoe's sister, Mary Donohoe, on behalf of herself and her other siblings, Alan, Colm, Martin and Anne.

"Adrian was a huge child at heart, he loved children and gravitated towards them.

"We are angry and bereft that he has missed out on knowing so many nieces and nephews that were born after he died."

The court heard a statement from Mr Donohoe's partner on the night, Det Garda Joe Ryan, about the devastating impact the murder had on him and his career.

Two of the four raiders had pointed a gun at the garda and threatened to kill him during the armed robbery at the Credit Union. "I had no doubt they were going to kill me," he said in a court-read statement.

He got vivid flashbacks of the night, couldn't sleep and was eventually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that ultimately forced him to retire 10 years early from An Garda Síochána.

"The incident was the most horrific thing imaginable and dramatically changed my life forever," he said.

Brady was yesterday handed the mandatory life sentence with a minimum of 40 years for the capital murder of Mr Donohoe at Lordship Credit Union on January 25, 2013.

He was sentenced to 14 years for armed robbery, with the sentence to run concurrently.

Mr Justice Michael White backdated the sentence to February 2018, when Brady was first taken into custody.

After going through the evidence and hearing victim impact statements, Mr Justice White said there were no mitigating circumstances for him to consider in handing down the sentence. Anyone who saw the CCTV footage or heard the audio recording of what happened at Lordship would be "shocked to the core".

The court heard, in the summing up of evidence, how Brady had lied to gardaí and fled to America, even as he was already on bail for motoring offences at the time. When he was deported, he was convicted of criminal damage and dangerous driving from an incident when he drove a stolen car around Dundalk and crashed into a number of taxis and a Garda patrol car.

After the hearing, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the murder was an "attack on this State".

"The pain that his wife Caroline, his children Niall and Amy, his siblings, his family, that can never be erased by a sentencing or conviction," she said.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: "An Garda Síochána's resolve to bring all the participants in this crime to justice remains firm and the investigation team at Dundalk will continue to be supported by the resources of the wider organisation."

Belfast Telegraph