A LIMERICKMAN has avoided a prison sentence after he admitted arranging a fatal and “tragic” meeting for a local woman to have sex with his Alsatian dog in Patrickswell four years ago.
Sean McDonnell, 58, who now resides in England, was greeted with hugs from his daughter at Limerick Circuit Court today, after Judge Carroll Moran handed down a three-year suspended sentence.
The former bus-driver pleaded guilty to buggery with a German shepherd, under section 61 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, and faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The 43 year-old Limerick mother, whose identity has not been disclosed, died after the act, but the exact cause of her death remains undetermined. The court heard that DNA samples taken from the woman’s vagina matched the accused’s dog.
Judge Carroll Moran said “even in this tolerant times, acts of bestiality are socially repugnant”, but he felt McDonnell would not benefit from a custodial sentence, having already been severely punished through adverse publicity as a result of this case. He also lost his job in Limerick as a result of this case, and is separated from his family, after feeling compelled to move out of Limerick.
The judge said he was “shocked” to be told about the number of hits to pornographic sites on McDonnell’s computer, which the court heard ran to 1.5 million hits in the space of five months.
He said one of the mitigating factors in the case was that the woman went to the house of her own free will and consent, and there was no element of coercion.
The judge said the defendant, who formerly resided in Churchill Meadows, Raheen, did not have a role in her death, and “could not have anticipated it”.
McDonnell is due to continue receiving counselling in the UK, and took an oath in court to this effect.
His name has been added to the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years. Under road haulage regulations, having his name placed on the register will disqualify him from having a license, which will further limit his job opportunities, his defence said.
Earlier the court heard that a number of text messages had been sent between the defendant and a woman on October 7, 2008, after they communicated on an internet site.
It was suggested to the defendant by the deceased that she had an allergy to dogs, however the prosecution said there was no medical evidence of this allergy.
The defendant, a father of three, called the emergency services at 18.36, and when the ambulance and paramedics arrived at 18.50 they found the woman in an unusual state of dress.
The court heard McDonnell, who has no previous convictions, made no effort made to alter her state of dress or interfere with her in any way before the paramedics arrived.
In Laurel Park, Patrickswell, McDonnell contacted his GP twice as he realised she was in distress, her colour had turned blue, and then she “collapsed as a result of contact with the dog”.
She was removed to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital and was pronounced dead at 20.20.
A post-mortem examination was conducted by the State pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, and the cause of death remains undetermined.
Three computers were seized by gardai – two belonging to the woman and one belonging to Mr McDonnell – as part of their investigations. He was charged with the offence on June 30, 2011.
Judge Moran said this was a “tragic” case, and extended his condolences to the deceased’s family and friends.
Under the terms of the suspended sentence, McDonnell will be bound to the peace and ordered to be of good behaviour. The judge warned him that his condition applies to his time in the UK, as well as Ireland.