Profile: Enda McLaughlin

Co Donegal man had long string of convictions for violence arising from alcohol consumption

The scene in of the incident in Germany where Enda McLaughlin died after being struck by a car  after he stabbed three people. Photograph: (C) WDR

The scene in of the incident in Germany where Enda McLaughlin died after being struck by a car after he stabbed three people. Photograph: (C) WDR


A Donegal man who was killed while running across a German motorway after stabbing three people had a long history of unprovoked and extreme violence linked to his consumption of alcohol.

The dead man, Enda McLaughlin (27), Carrowmore, Glentogher, Carndonagh, Co Donegal, had up to 30 convictions and once told a judge he would only control his drinking if “somebody shoots me”.

On that occasion he was in court after ringing gardaí to ask them to come to a house to stop him stabbing his girlfriend.

He first came to public attention in May, 2007, when he carried out an attack at a circus in Donegal for which he was later jailed for 18 months. He burst into the big top tent and punched one of the performers in the face at a packed show and tried to assault another circus worker who went after him and held him until gardaí arrived.

His lawyer told the court he was from a difficult background and that another woman in Cardonagh had stepped in to care for him after his mother had left his life when he was aged three years.

Lawyer PA Dorrian suggested to the court McLaughlin had a history of random and unprovoked violence related to substance abuse. “Unfortunately, he suffers from a psychological disability,” he told Judge Desmond Zaidan at Carndonagh District Court. “Without reason this person attacked the circus workers. They were trying to entertain the community. If he takes alcohol at all, it apparently triggers a psychological problem to the extent where he is not aware of what he’s doing.”

The court was told he had attacked a nightclub bouncer in February 2006 after his friend had been ejected from a club. He was jailed for 12 months. In March, 2005, he mugged a man in the street for €30. Judge Zaidan told McLaughlin he had no choice but to jail him for both crimes.

“For a man of 20 years of age, you have an appalling criminal past. All your crimes are violence-related,” he told him. “I was told of your psychological difficulties, and that alcohol triggers your behaviour, but my view of this is that if you chose to live a lifestyle of self-induced alcohol consumption, then you cannot expect to come to this court looking for more sympathy.

“I, as presiding judge, don’t take any comfort in sending another human being to custody, but it is my duty to protect members of society.

“The random nature of the violence committed to my mind must equal an immediate custodial sentence. You are a dangerous and a violent individual. Your past and present record speaks for itself.

“I cannot take another chance. If you re-offend and someone is stabbed or loses an eye because of you, how do you think I would approach the rest of my life?”

He recommended McLaughlin attend psychological, alcohol, anger management classes and counselling on his release from prison. McLaughlin was back in court in June, 2008, but on that occasion was acquitted of breaking the jaw of a woman who needed surgery on the injury.

In January 2010 he phoned gardaí so they would come to a property in Carndonagh to stop him stabbing his girlfriend. “I am going to kill myself or someone else,” he told them.

A Garda witness told a court appearance: “He indicated he was going to kill his girlfriend and stab her and cut her up if he wasn’t arrested.” When asked by the judge if he was going to get control of his drinking, McLaughlin answered: “Yes, if you shoot me.”

In 2012 he was jailed again, for two years, after he attacked a man at a house party with a wine bottle that he had just broken over his victim’s head. The incident occurred in a chalet in Moneymore, Ballintra. As the victim lay bleeding on the ground, McLaughlin threatened others in the property and refused to let them leave.

The gardaí were only alerted when one woman present went to the toilet and rang the gardaí from there. Garda Tony Cornyn told Letterkenny Circuit Court that when he responded to the call and arrived at the property it was covered in blood. “It looked somebody had sprayed blood from an aerosol can because it came out that quick. It was all over the walls and the furniture.”

McLaughlin was in the bedroom when the gardaí arrived and when he emerged he denied any involvement though he was covered in blood. The victim said he was reaching for a drink when he felt a stab on the back of the head. He passed out and when he woke he was in hospital.

The court was told McLaughlin at that point had around 30 convictions, mostly for alcohol related violence. McLaughlin told the court he had stopped drinking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous and asked Judge John O’Hagan to give him another chance. But, Judge O’Hagan said he must take responsibility for his actions.

“People who produce or create weapons must take responsibility for natural and probable consequences of their actions – drink or no drink. I have no option but to jail you,” he said. Documentation found on McLaughlin’s remains in Germany suggested he had spent the first part of this year in prison and was only released from Cork Prison in early April.