Damages for family of murder victim


IN AN unprecedented court ruling, the family of a man “ruthlessly and gratuitously” gunned down outside his home has been awarded about €750,000 damages by the High Court.

Most of the award, some €720,000, will go to Margaret Madden whose husband Terence Madden (52), a father of three, bled to death after an artery in his leg was severed when he was shot twice in the early morning ambush outside his home in Ballaghaderreen, Co Sligo, on January 28th, 1999.

Ms Madden, Lough Gara View House, Monasteraden, Ballaghaderreen, Co Sligo, had sued the four men involved in the incident in what is believed to be the first action of its kind where damages were sought by the family of the victim of a contract killing.

In her judgment yesterday, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was hard to imagine the trauma Ms Madden must have felt when, after hearing a loud noise and running downstairs, she found her husband lying on the ground covered in blood.

Ms Madden had suffered a heart attack, was in hospital for seven days and was in a terrible state of shock when discharged for her husband’s funeral, the judge said.

She later suffered sleep deprivation, flashbacks and nightmares.

Ms Madden’s recovery, the judge added, might have been different if she did not have to live at the scene of the murder. Ms Madden also had to witness the Garda restaging of the incident as gardaí were initially at a complete loss in relation to the killing.

Granting €550,000 for the loss of income as a result of the death of her husband and €150,000 for nervous shock, Ms Justice Irvine said it was “hopelessly unrealistic” to think Ms Madden will fully recover psychologically. She should be enjoying a life with her husband who was taken from her prematurely by the “senseless and ruthless actions” of the four men, the judge said.

The damages award was made against all four defendants who had not defended the action.

Michael Doohan is serving life for the murder. He later claimed he had ordered a punishment-style beating for Mr Madden and had asked that he be crippled with his legs and arms broken.

Doohan, a soldier at the time, claimed he told the attacker to stay away from Mr Madden’s head; €600 was paid upfront and a further €900 was to be paid after the attack, his trial heard.

The court heard the attack arose out of the resentment of Doohan, formerly of Ashbury Lawns, Ballinode, Co Sligo, over the Maddens’ operating a bed and breakfast near another BB operated by Doohan’s mother.

There was also a grudge in relation to Mr Madden offering his sympathies at the funeral of Doohan’s father.

The case was also against Michael Joseph Herron of Chapel Street, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, and Patrick McGrath of Cuilpruglish, Gurteen, Co Sligo, who are both also serving life sentences for the murder.

Thomas Derrig, Culfadda, Ballymote, Co Sligo, a further defendant, died two years ago and the award is against the representatives of his estate. Derrig had pleaded guilty to having a sawn-off shotgun in suspicious circumstances in October 1998, the gun used in the murder, and received a suspended sentence.

It was claimed Ms Madden had been unable to run her BB after her husband’s death and suffered personal injuries, nervous shock and loss arising from the murder.

The damages award includes €1,250 to each of Mr Madden’s three brothers and a sister and a further €5,000 each to Ms Madden and her three children. An additional €17,000 was awarded to Claire Madden, who returned to live with her mother after the shooting and €17,224 was awarded in special damages.

Ms Justice Irvine said she was satisfied from the evidence Ms Madden was entitled to succeed against each of the defendants on grounds including conspiracy.