Court hears girl’s killer suffering from ‘psychiatric illness’

Daniel McDonnell jailed for life for murder of Melanie McCarthy McNamara in 2012

The Court of Appeal has been told that a man serving life for the murder of Melanie McCarthy McNamara is suffering from a “psychiatric illness”.

Daniel McDonnell (22) of Brookview Lawns in Tallaght had pleaded not guilty to murdering the 16-year-old on February 8th, 2012 at Brookview Way in Tallaght.

McDonnell, then aged 19, was unanimously found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court and given the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Paul Carney on January 24th, 2014.

He was due to appeal his conviction on Tuesday. However, the Court of Appeal was told that he was medically unfit to attend court and that he was suffering from a “psychiatric illness”.


Counsel for McDonnell, Bernard Condon SC, asked the court for time to get an up-to-date report on the “psychiatric circumstances”.

Mr Condon said his side had been ready to proceed and that the information before the court had come from a registered doctor.

It was put back to December 18th when a new date is expected to be fixed for hearing.

Sho t in head

The Central Criminal Court trial heard that Melanie was shot in the head as she sat in a car with her boyfriend and his friend in Tallaght on the date in question.

The trial heard that a stolen black Hyundai Santa Fe had pulled up alongside the car in which she was sitting in the back seat. A shot was discharged from the Hyundai and she was hit in the head.

Her boyfriend, Christopher Moran, and his friend, Seán Byrne, brought her to hospital where she died a short time later.

The Hyundai was found abandoned and out of fuel in Citywest shortly after the shooting. The stolen sawn-off shotgun and two discharged cartridges were recovered nearby. There were no fingerprints on the vehicle, weapon or cartridges.

McDonnell was one of two men arrested on suspicion of murder the following week. He was detained at Tallaght Garda station and made no comment to questions in more than a dozen interviews.

Instead, he daubed incriminating graffiti on his cell wall.

A few weeks later, while detained in St Patrick’s Institution, McDonnell continued to brag about his involvement in the murder, this time in two letters.

He handed the letters to a prison officer for posting, knowing that they would be read in accordance with prison protocol. Staff passed the letters on to the gardaí.

McDonnell’s barrister had described his client’s writings as “rants to his friend and girlfriend”.

However, the prosecution said there was no explanation for the letters other than as admissions of guilt.

After four hours and 17 minutes deliberating, the jury reached a unanimous verdict of guilty.

Mr Justice Paul Carney then imposed the mandatory penalty for murder on the accused, imprisonment for life.