Belfast Telegraph

Road rage dad killed UK driver with hurley stick, court told

By Sarah Stack

A motorist in the Republic of Ireland looked like he was "possessed" when he killed a British drink-driver in a road rage attack, a court heard.

Karl Donohoe beat up construction worker Raymond Bates in Dublin minutes after they argued at a junction in September 2010.

The victim, a father-of-three from Peterlee, Co Durham, died in hospital four days after being beaten around the head with a hurley stick in a south Dublin suburb.

Donohoe, 31, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin where he will be sentenced next Monday.

Mr Bates's widow Brenda wept in court as it emerged her husband had drunk up to 10 pints of Guinness in a pub before getting behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi Pajero and tailgating and flashing Donohoe, who was travelling with his 18-month-old daughter.

Witnesses said Donohoe stopped in Irishtown, where both drivers got out of their cars and had an argument on the street, with Mr Bates shouting: "Don't be braking like a f***ing fanny, just drive your f***ing car."

Shortly afterwards Mr Bates overtook Donohoe's Toyota Rav 4 and mounted a central island before cutting in on the Dublin man, who later claimed he feared he was going to be rammed off the road.

The court was told Donohoe took a hurley stick from the boot of his car and hit the Mitsubishi Pajero as it blocked his path, and then hit Mr Bates several times when he got out of the car, including a fatal blow to the left temple as he lay defenceless on the ground.

He died in hospital when his life support machine was turned off on September 30, 2010.

Mrs Bates - who was treated for post traumatic stress disorder after the killing - told the court she was too upset to read her own victim impact statement.

Mr Bates's wife of 27 years wrote that the pain of his loss was indescribable and had completely devastated the family.

"It was incredibly difficult to see Ray so lifeless, being supported by a life support machine," read Isobel Kennedy, senior counsel for the prosecution.

"The boys could not comprehend what had happened to their dad when they saw him in hospital - their best friend, fishing and shooting partner, drinking buddy and dad, lying motionless, completely dependent on technology to keep him alive."

Mrs Bates described the victim as a caring, loving husband who would have been the perfect grandfather to their two grandsons.

She said their grown-up sons were so pained they could not look at pictures of their father, who was their friend, role model and mentor.

"Words alone cannot describe how much I and the boys miss him," her statement continued. "Our lives will never be the same, Ray's death has killed the family."

She said there was a huge chasm and void in their lives.

"Apparently time is a great healer but when does this start?" she added.

In a statement Mr Bates's brother Gary said the dead man should be remembered as a hard-working man with strong moral values.

"He had respect for law and order ... never a man of violence," he added.

Mr Bates, a quality control inspector, had been in Ireland working for several months on a gas pipeline at the time of the attack.

Ms Kennedy told the court witnesses said Donohoe looked "possessed" as he hit the car and then attacked Mr Bates at the junction of Sandymount Road and Tritonville Road on September 26, 2010.

He was hitting the victim's car "in a menacing way" for two to three minutes before Mr Bates got out with his hands raised above him and was struck several times, falling to the ground, while Donohoe shouted and swore aggressively.

Mr Bates and Donohoe - who was on bail at the time for arson and criminal damage over a family dispute - drove away from the scene and a witness reported the assault to the garda.

The victim, a haemophiliac, was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital the next day when he became unwell and was transferred to Beaumont Hospital, where he fell into a coma.

He had suffered a fractured skull and haemorrhaging and died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Detective Garda Barry Walsh, from Irishtown Garda Station, revealed that when Donohoe was interviewed the day after the assault, he said: "I hope he f***ing dies, he got what he deserves."

He said he had not lost his cool and that he could have "annihilated" Mr Bates on the ground if he wanted, but did not.

A text message sent to his partner on the night of the attack read: "I know he is lucky to be alive, he got about eight smacks from the hurley to the head," the garda said.

But the crane worker, from Tyrellstown, west Dublin, later claimed he did not understand at the time how serious Mr Bates's injuries were and admitted he overreacted on the evening of the attack.

Donohoe was initially charged with assault causing harm and then murder, before the prosecution accepted a guilty plea to manslaughter in February.

Mrs Bates sobbed uncontrollably and her family shook their heads as Brendan Grehan, senior counsel for Donohoe, apologised a second time on behalf of his client for the attack, which he maintained was out of character.

"I can honestly say my life changed for the worse. I do realise I have to take responsibility for my actions," he read for his client.

Mr Justice Paul Carney had been due to sentence Donohoe today but adjourned the case until next Monday. Sentencing can vary from a fine or a suspended sentence up to life imprisonment in exceptional circumstances.

Earlier Mrs Bates admitted she had struggled to accept, understand and deal with the criminal justice process over the last 18 months.

"The length of time just waiting for something to happen, a bit of information, a development, progress, seemed to take forever and just exacerbated me and the family's grief and bereavement," she wrote.

Belfast Telegraph


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