Man with history of violence against women changed name before 'terrorising' next victim

Gordon Deegan

A Dublin man with a history of violence against women and who changed his identity when moving to Co Clare before "terrorising" his fourth female victim has been jailed for seven years and 10 months.

At Ennis Circuit Court on Monday, Judge Francis Comerford imposed a sentence of eight years and seven months on Scott Donegan (38), suspending the final nine months of the sentence.

As part of sentencing for two separate offences on different dates, the judge imposed a six-year, 11-month prison term on Donegan for the false imprisonment of an ex-partner during a four-hour ordeal at his home at Knockmore, Kilmilhil, Co Clare on November 9th, 2022.

Judge Comerford said that there was no question of him suspending any portion of the prison term for the false imprisonment as Donegan’s three previous convictions for violent assaults against women contained an element of a suspended sentence and he continued to offend.

Judge Comerford said Donegan’s previous convictions for assaults against women were “an aggravating factor” when imposing sentence in the false imprisonment case.

'Severe beating'

The judge said Donegan had a 10-year prison term with the final two years suspended for the assault causing serious harm to his then partner in 2012.

Judge Comerford said the “severe beating” Donegan inflicted on the woman in February 2012 left her brain-damaged and the offence was compounded when Donegan "left her lying for 15 hours" after the assault.

A native of Tallaght, Donegan was released from prison in February 2018 for this offence and moved to Co Clare shortly after.

Donegan committed his first assault aged 18 against a then partner and received a suspended 12-month sentence, the court heard.

Judge Comerford said Donegan received a three-year prison term with the final year suspended for two assaults carried out on another then partner in 2008, when he was aged 22.

The judge said these three assaults were carried out under the name of Paul McMenamy before he changed his name by deed poll to Scott Donegan.

Judge Comerford said Donegan had “terrorised” his latest female victim while out on bail.

'Danger to society'

In her victim impact statement, the Clare woman told the court that Donegan “is a danger to society and he has scarred and damaged me for life”.

The woman said Donegan imposed “a reign of terror” on her during the four-hour ordeal on November 9th, despite her begging him to stop.

She said: “I believed that I would be killed by him and never see my children or family again.”

In her statement, the woman told the court that Donegan legally changed his name “to avoid his past being made apparent where he was convicted of assault on three previous partners the last of whom was left with a brain injury”.

Det Garda Donal Corkery said the woman in the new case was unaware of Donegan’s past and commenced a relationship with him.

However, Det Corkery said the woman ended the relationship after seeing another side to Donegan “and after learning some bits about his past and his criminal history”.

He said Donegan could not accept the relationship was over, and last year continued to bombard the woman with messages from various social media platforms.

The court heard Donegan blackmailed her, threatening that if she did not meet with him he would tell the woman’s former partner that she had an affair with someone else towards the end of their relationship.

Det Corkery said the woman felt she had no choice but to go and meet him.

'Frozen out of fear'

The garda told the court that at Donegan’s home on November 9th, 2022, Donegan took the mobile phone off the victim and forced her to sit in a chair “where she was frozen out of fear due to the aggressive behaviour of Mr Donegan”.

Det Corkery said Donegan ran at the woman with a knife and put her in fear, and he then grabbed her by the throat and squeezed her windpipe.

He said Donegan told her he had a Glock hand-gun and a shot-gun, and put on latex gloves while saying this.

Det Corkery said: “In total, the woman was not allowed to leave the house from 7pm to 11pm. She was in constant fear that her life was in jeopardy.”

The detective said Donegan returned the phone to the woman and she phoned a friend who came to the home to pick her up.

Det Corkery said Donegan appeared in court on November 15th, 2022, and has remained in custody since.

Counsel for Donegan, Patrick Whyms BL instructed by solicitor Daragh Hassett, previously told the court that his client apologised to the victim and is extremely sorry for all of his offences outlined to court.

Donegan had gone forward to the circuit court on a signed guilty plea from the district court.

Mr Whyms said Donegan is in the early stages of a substantial period in custody but had been making the most of his time in prison by engaging with voluntary groups there and signing up for Leaving Cert courses as he left school when he was 14.

Mr Whyms said a report found that Donegan is not diagnosed with any mental illness.

In her victim impact statement, the woman said that prior to the incident she “was subjected to almost two weeks of harassment, stalking, him threatening suicide and threats made against me, my family and friends because I did not want to continue a relationship with him after the reality and gravity of his web of lies that had been told to me because apparent”.

'Psychological scars'

The woman said that during the four-hour ordeal: “I have never thought it possible to experience fear like what I did on that night while he held a knife to me, put his hands on me and screamed in my face that he would butcher me.”

The woman said “the psychological and emotional scars as a result of the trauma he has left with me are very real” and she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and panic attacks.

She said: “I am left with the trauma, devalued and dehumanised by him.”

The woman said she wakes up screaming from nightmares “where I can again can feel his hand on my neck, the spit from his mouth as he screamed in my face and him laughing at me taking pleasure as I begged him to stop while holding a knife to me while saying he was going to butcher me”.

Judge Comerford imposed an additional 20 months on Donegan for threatening to kill William Martin on April 19th, 2021, at Luis Na Si, Mullagh Road, Miltown Malbay, suspending the final nine months.

The judge ordered that the prison term is to run consecutive to the sentence for false imprisonment, making it seven years and 10 months in total. He backdated the sentences to last November.