Suspended sentence in bestiality case
A man who arranged for a woman he met through the Internet to engage in an act of bestiality with his dog has been given a three year suspended jail term.
Seán McDonnell (58), a father of three formerly of Rathmore, Churchill Meadows, Raheen, Limerick, pleaded guilty to one count of buggery with an animal, namely a German Shepherd type dog, on October 7th 2008.
The unemployed bus driver was charged following the death of a 43-year-old woman who died hours after she had sexual intercourse with the animal.
Before imposing sentence at Limerick Circuit Court today, Judge Carroll Moran said acts of bestiality were “socially repugnant…even in these tolerant times” and described this an aggravating factor in the case.
Judge Moran said it was also “quite shocking” that a computer belonging to McDonnell showed 1.5 million hits to a bestiality website over a five month period.
Another computer seized by gardaí belonging to the deceased woman, a mother of four, revealed extensive material on pornography and bestiality, the court heard.
Evidence was given that gardaí received a call from the accused man shortly after 6.30pm on October 7th, 2008 to go to his house in Patrickswell, Co Limerick, where he was living at the time.
A woman wearing unusual clothing was found in the house in an unresponsive state and taken to the Mid Western Regional Hospital where she was pronounced dead two hours later. A postmortem revealed a heart attack as a possible cause of death “but in the absence of positive findings the cause of death remained undetermined”, the court heard.
Judge Moran said a DNA profile from semen swabs found in the woman’s body matched that of McDonnell’s dog. He said the woman went to McDonnell’s house of her own will and mobile phone records showed there had been contact between the two parties. “Both were aware that the purpose of the visit to the accused house was to have sex with the dog,” Judge Moran said.
Notwithstanding the “unusual circumstances” of that case, Judge Moran said he felt it right to extend his condolences to the family and friends of the deceased woman, some of whom were present in court today.
Counsel for McDonnell, Isobel Kennedy, said her client was regretful and remorseful for what happened. She said he would not have been prosecuted had the woman not died and insisted there was no form of coercion or duress involved.
Ms Kennedy said her client - who was forced to emigrate to the UK because of the publicity surrounding the case - had lost his job and his family and had sought help at the Priory Clinic. Due to financial constraints, he was availing of treatment elsewhere.
Judge Moran noted McDonnell’s previous good record prior to this incident and said his guilty plea was a great relief to the relatives of the deceased woman. Had the matter been contested, it would have added to their “grief and torment”, he said.
Judge Moran said the mother had engaged in bestiality of her own free well and she was not coerced by the accused, who did not anticipate the outcome.
He said McDonnell, although he was charged and pleaded guilty, was not the principal offender but had aided and abetted the crime.
Judge Moran noted McDonnell had sought immediate medical help when he saw there was a problem and did not try to alter the scene, change the woman’s clothing or interfere with forensic evidence.
The judge said McDonnell already been punished and exposed to “an enormous amount of adverse publicity”, and gardaí accepted he is unlikely to re-offend again.
McDonnell's name has already been added to the sex offenders register for five years.
According to the European Communities Road Haulage Regulations of 2009, he is also prohibited from holding a haulage licence on a vehicle which carries more than nine people for a period of five years.
Before imposing sentence, Judge Moran said “notwithstanding the disgusting nature of the offence”, he did not think an immediate custodial sentence was appropriate.
“The woman herself was the principal offender and a willing participant and her death was not anticipated,” he said.
Judge Moran imposed a three-year suspended jail sentence on condition that Mr McDonnell continues to engage in counselling.
McDonnell hugged his daughter who was present in court after the hearing.