‘The only word that comes to mind is evil’: Relatives describe pain caused by Jasmine McMonagle’s death

Richard Burke’s sentencing hearing told deceased woman’s children living apart and ‘heartbroken’ when time together ends

Relatives of a woman who was beaten to death by her on and off partner in her own home, have said they wonder if she called out for her family before she died and that her children’s lives have been ruined.

At a sentencing hearing at the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday, Jacqueline McMonagle said that when it came to Richard Burke, who was found guilty of her daughter Jasmine McMonagle’s manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, “the only word that comes to mind is evil”.

The 28-year-old was found seriously injured in her kitchen following a three hour standoff between Burke (32) and gardaí at Forest Park, Killygordon, Co Donegal on January 4th, 2019.

A Criminal Court trial sitting in Monaghan heard from two psychiatrists who agreed that Burke was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of the killing which substantially diminished his responsibility. The jury of seven women and five men were told by Mr Justice Paul Burns that all the evidence in Burke’s trial pointed to a manslaughter verdict and the jury took just over one hour to unanimously agree.


Reading from her victim-impact statement, Jacqueline McMonagle said her “world fell apart” when Jasmine’s life and future were “horrifically taken from her” by Burke.

She told the court the family had all been given a life sentence of suffering and pain and of missing a “kind an generous” person who they would never see again.


Ms McMonagle said she could not get images of what her daughter must have been going through on the night she was killed out of her mind. “She was a small petite girl and I think about how powerless she must have felt and how I wasn’t there to help her.”

She said she goes “over and over” what happened and wonders if her daughter called out their names and how long she suffered before she died. She said the family still struggle to process the details of what Burke did to Jasmine.

“The only word that comes to mind is evil,” she said, adding that his actions left two young children without their mother, forcing them to leave their home and live apart.

The court also heard from Ms McMonagle’s daughter, who was just eight-years-old when her mother was killed. She said Burke had “ruined our lives” and she and her younger sister would “never get Mammy back”.

In a victim-impact statement read to the court, the girl, now aged 12, said she wished “Mammy had never ever met him”.

She said she always thought Burke was a bad person. He had tried to teach her mother martial arts, but what she really needed was defending from him, she said. She said she suffers from nightmares and flashbacks about what happened and finds it hard not living with her sister anymore.

Constant fear

In his victim impact statement, the 12-year-old’s father said the girl is in constant fear that Burke will escape justice and come to murder her and her sister. “This animal has ruined my child’s life,” he said.

He said his daughter has trouble talking to her friends about anything to do with mothers and that conversations about things children do with their mothers, such as trips to the cinema or the hairdressers, have become triggers for her.

He said his daughter “thinks the world” of her younger sister and the fact that they now live not only in different houses but in different counties is very hard for her. He said she stays over with her every other weekend but the two girls are “heartbroken” when they have to leave each other.

In her statement, Jenna McMonagle, Jasmine’s sister, who has legal guardianship of her sibling’s youngest daughter, told the court that Jasmine’s life was “ripped away from her” in the most brutal way possible.

“I could call Richard Burke a monster or an animal but quite frankly that would be disrespectful to monsters and animals. Richard Burke is something else,” she said.

She told the court she was eight months pregnant on the morning gardaí arrived to say Jasmine had died. She said a lot of what followed was “a blur” but she knew she had to be strong for her unborn son and the two beautiful girls whose mother had been “savagely stolen away from them”.


She said Ms McMonagle’s youngest daughter is now trying to process things that are “unfathomable to a child” as she grows up.

At Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Sgt Brendan McCann told prosecutor Anne-Marie Lawlor SC that Burke has 23 previous convictions. The majority of these were district court convictions for offences such as the possession of drugs, criminal damage, assault, public order and knife possession.

Mr Justice Paul Burns remanded Burke in custody for sentencing on May 22nd.