A domestic abuser who killed his partner after developing an “untrue and unfounded” obsession that she was involved in an incestuous relationship has been jailed for 12 years and six months by a judge at the Central Criminal Court.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott said Martin Hayes had a history of violence and aggression towards his partner Amadea McDermott before he stabbed her, causing her death in July 2017. The judge said the killing was an act of domestic violence, which he said was an aggravating factor in the killing. He also rejected a defence submission that he should find that the killing was “accidental or quasi-accidental”.
Grave digger Hayes (34) was found not guilty of Amadea McDermott’s (27) murder but guilty of manslaughter by the majority verdict of a Central Criminal Court jury earlier this month.
Hayes, with an address at Poddle Close, Crumlin, Dublin 12, had pleaded not guilty to murdering the mother-of-two at her home in Rathvale Drive, Ayrfield, Coolock, on or about July 20th, 2017. He told the trial that his partner inflicted the injury on herself.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott on Tuesday said Hayes still maintains that he is guilty of no offence and therefore there is no evidence that he has any remorse for what he did.
The judge found that it was established beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence heard during the trial that Hayes stabbed Ms McDermott once in the abdomen, causing her death. He noted bruises to her limbs that a pathologist said were recently caused and bruises to her face that the pathologist said were “more likely” from direct blows than from a fall. Those included bruises and grazes above her right eye, lip, temple and left jaw.
Mr Justice McDermott said the accused gave conflicting accounts of what led to the row but the judge was satisfied that it was Hayes’s “untrue and unfounded belief” that Ms McDermott had been involved in an incestuous relationship. He described this as an “obsession” and said he was satisfied that Hayes was the aggressor on the night.
He noted aggravating features including the “clear history of violence against the deceased”. He said the killing was “clearly an act of domestic violence, which is in itself an aggravating feature.”
The infliction of the stab wound was “on any view highly reckless,” the judge said, and Hayes’s use of alcohol and drugs was an exacerbating rather than mitigating factor given that it was “not out of character” for Hayes to be violent or aggressive towards Ms McDermott when intoxicated.
Mr Justice McDermott said Hayes had created “menacing videos” in which he confronted Ms McDermott with the untrue allegations regarding incest. In one video, he said Ms McDermott was “clearly in fear”. The judge also noted Hayes’s demeanour in giving evidence during the trial, which he said showed his “underlying violent disposition, he was violent in language and in action.” He said it was “rare to be given such a clear demonstration of this” in a trial but his disposition was “shockingly clear to all but himself”.
The judge set a headline sentence of 14 years and noted there was only limited mitigation, such as Hayes’s work record as a grave digger and his attempts to address his drug abuse issues. Taking into account all matters, the judge set a sentence of 12 years and six months with no portion suspended. He backdated the sentence to April 4th, 2022, when Hayes first went into custody.
Speaking outside court, Eucharia McDermott described her sister as a “kind, caring, funny, loving, beautiful and amazing mother, daughter, sister, auntie and friend.”
She thanked gardaí and the prosecution team who had, she said, “helped to convict this violent, sick, evil, twisted, deranged monster”.
She said Hayes had told “lie after lie without a shred of evidence” in his testimony to the trial when he falsely alleged that Ms McDermott had caused her own death by stabbing herself. “Throughout the trial he showed no remorse for taking our beautiful sister’s life away from her and her family,” she said.
She said that although the family will “never get our beautiful Amadea back, we have protected many women from his evil, violent hands..”
She added: “The physical abuse, mental abuse and emotional abuse she endured and her violent death will haunt us to the day we pass. For every wound there is a scar and every scar tells a story. We strongly urge our nation to stand up against coercive control and domestic abuse.
“Whether it be physical abuse, mental abuse or emotional abuse, we feel the laws in this country are too lenient and need to be changed urgently to help protect and save lives.”