A MAN who killed an Enniskillen teenager after a family barbecue descended into a brawl was told he would have to spend a minimum of 10 years in prison.
Joe Joyce, 32, whose registered address to the Court was listed as Clon Elagh, Derry was convicted for the murder of 18-year-old John Paul McDonagh that took place outside Mr Joyce’s previous address of Coolcullen Meadows, Enniskillen.
Belfast Crown Court heard that while Mr Justice Rooney accepted that Mr Joyce – who had been found guilty by a jury last June – did not intend to kill Mr McDonagh, the loss to the deceased’s family due to his “traumatic and unnecessary death” had to be taken into account.
During the initial trial, the jury had been shown video footage of the incident that saw Joyce take Mr McDonagh’s life when the latter suffered a fatal leg wound during a street fight.
The footage showed Joyce standing outside his home with a slash hook in one hand and a plastic bottle filled with ammonia in the other.
The jury saw how Mr Joyce then engaged in, what the Prosecution for the Crown described as “a street battle” with Mr McDonagh and his brothers Gerard and Jimmy before the fatal blow struck the deceased on the back of his leg.
Mr McDonagh, pictured below, received medical treatment at the scene from paramedics and was taken to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen only to die of his injuries two days later.
In passing sentence, Mr Justice Rooney said: “It is important that the court realises and understands the extent of the damage that has been caused to Rose McDonagh (John Paul’s mother) and her family due to John Paul’s traumatic and unnecessary death.
“I recognise that the loss of John Paul McDonagh’s life can’t be measured by the length of a prison sentence.
“There is no term of imprisonment that I can impose that will reconcile his mother, his family and his friends to the loss, nor will it cure their pain.”
Mr Joyce will spend at least 10 years in prison before he can be considered for parole.
Of the conviction, Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said: “John Paul was just 18 years old when he was murdered. He should have had his whole life ahead of him.
“I know that nothing can ease the pain and heartache the McDonagh family continue to feel.
“I can only hope that today’s result sends out a clear message of the consequences of such irreversible and reckless actions. A young life has been taken; a family left bereft; and another set to spend 10 years in prison.”
Meanwhile, Mr Joyce’s wife, Ellen, 31, and who is also registered at an address in Clon Elagh, Derry, was also sentenced to two months in prison to be suspended for a year for common assault that was related to the same incident.
John Paul McDonagh’s brother, Gerard, is to be sentenced at the later date after a jury in a separate trial found him guilty of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to Joseph Joyce and possession of a deadly weapon, again, during the same incident.
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