Richard Burke sentenced to 14 years in prison for beating Jasmine McMonagle to death

Mr Burke (32)’s psychotic episode may have been triggered or exacerbated by drug use, court heard

A man who strangled and beat his on-off partner to death during a psychotic episode that may have been triggered or exacerbated by drug use has been jailed for 14 years and must undergo five years of post-release supervision and psychiatric care.

Mr Justice Paul Burns on Monday passed sentence on Richard Burke who was found not guilty of murdering Jasmine McMonagle but guilty of her manslaughter earlier this year. The court heard that his responsibility for the killing was substantially diminished by a mental disorder. One of the doctors noted that the disorder “may have been triggered or exacerbated” by drug use.

Mr Justice Burns said that despite his condition, Burke knew that what he was doing was wrong, understood the nature of what he was doing and he could have stopped himself.

He said that Burke “must bear a considerable degree of responsibility” for the crime. The judge noted the level of violence used against a defenceless woman that included the use of weapons and the fact she was at home with her two children at the time. He also factored in Burke’s level of premeditation and that he had previously expressed an intention to kill his victim.


Mr Justice Burns said that Burke’s condition was impacted by drug and alcohol use which he “deliberately” partook in while failing to comply with his medication. In mitigation, he noted that Burke had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and in garda interviews expressed “remorse, shame, self-hate and disgust” for what he had done.

He imposed a sentence of 15 years with the final year suspended for five years. Prior to his release, Burke must undergo a psychiatric assessment and must comply with the medical regime put in place by doctors. He must also comply with all requirements of the probation service or he will serve the final year of the sentence.

Jasmine McMonagle (28) was found in a pool of blood in the kitchen of her home following a three-hour standoff between Burke and gardaí. Burke (32) of Killygordon, County Donegal, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms McMonagle at Forest Park, Killygordon on January 4th, 2019 but guilty to manslaughter.

At Burke’s trial, sitting in Monaghan earlier this year, two psychiatrists 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 had been 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 agree, with a unanimous decision.

At a sentencing hearing in April, the victim’s mother Jacqueline McMonagle said that January 4th, 2019 was the day “my world fell apart”, when Jasmine’s life and future were “horrifically taken from her” by Burke.

Jasmine’s mother became emotional as she told the court the family had all been given a life sentence of suffering and pain. She said Jasmine was a “kind and generous” person who adored and lived for her two girls.

She told the court Jasmine had always loved spending time with her family and Christmas was a special time for them but the holiday “means nothing to me any more”. Now Jasmine’s daughters spend Christmas at their mother’s grave.

Ms McMonagle said she could not get the images out of her mind of what her daughter must have been going through the night she was killed.

“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.”

The court also heard from Ms McMonagle’s daughter, who was just 8 years old when her mother was brutally beaten and strangled to death while she was also in the house. She said Richard Burke had “ruined our lives” and she and her little sister would “never get Mammy back”.  

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the girl said: “I wish mammy had never ever met him. He has ruined our lives and we can never get Mammy back.”

The trial heard Gardaí attended the house in Forest Park, Killygordon following a 999 call by Ms McMonagle at 4.21am stating that she was in fear for her life.

The first officers on the scene were confronted by Burke brandishing a butcher-style meat cleaver which he swung at one of the members of the force, making contact with his clothing and narrowly missing his arm.  

A garda went to the rear of the property shortly after 5am and saw Ms McMonagle’s lifeless body lying in a pool of blood after he looked through a small gap in the curtains of a kitchen window.  

A decision was made that “immediate and forced entry” to the property was needed. As gardaí entered the house, Burke was barricaded in the rear of the property. When he confronted the first officer with a glass-breaking hammer and refused to put it down, Burke was tasered, handcuffed and searched. A knife in a scabbard was found in his jacket along with two phones; one his own, the other the mobile phone belonging to Jasmine that had been used to make the 999 call.

During three garda interviews, Burke told investigating officers he “went ballistic” and started punching Ms McMonagle and strangling her with a rope. He said he was still holding the rope when gardaí knocked.  

Burke also said he hated violence towards women. “I have a real bad temper, I just blanked I went ballistic absolutely fucking ballistic,” the killer said.    

“Because I hate guards I just went ballistic, started punching the f**k out of her then strangling her with a rope. I was only trying to make her see sense.”    

The trial heard evidence from Dr Dearbhla Duffy, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the Central Mental Hospital, who said it was her view that Burke was “acutely psychotic” at the time of the offence and for a short period afterwards.  

Dr Anthony Kearns, a now retired forensic psychiatrist who formerly worked at the Central Mental Hospital, said Burke was suffering from a mental disorder that substantially diminished his responsibility for Ms McMonagle’s killing.  

The psychiatrist said the mental disorder was complicated by the accused’s use of drugs over many years.