Thug who assaulted man while unlawfully at large is found dead in jail cell
A violent thug who carried out an unprovoked New Year's Eve assault on a 58-year-old man who died from a heart attack shortly afterwards, has killed himself in jail.
Martin McDonagh (30) was found unresponsive in his cell in Castlerea Prison, Co Roscommon, in the early hours of last Friday morning.
Sources have revealed his death is not being treated as suspicious.
McDonagh, of Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, was at the centre of major controversy when it emerged that he was unlawfully at large from Castlerea prison when he attacked Noel Keegan and his wife, Marie, in Longford town on New Year's Eve 2009.
Mr Keegan, who had just undergone surgery for an enlarged heart, died after the assault.
Dermot Ahern, who was Justice Minister at the time, later apologised in the Dail to the victim's family because McDonagh had been unlawfully at large at the time.
The notorious Traveller criminal had actually been released from the sentence he had served for assaulting Mr Keegan and was in the Roscommon jail on remand for separate crimes when he was found dead.
McDonagh was due to face a court hearing on Friday in relation to possession of weapon charges, which were later struck out because of his death.
A source said: "This individual served his time for his role in the death of Mr Keegan but, as soon as he got out, he was back causing mayhem on the streets.
"He ended up being remanded back in jail earlier in the summer on charges of possession of knives and other offensive weapons, but he decided to take his own life in prison. This man was a complete head case, a complete loose cannon."
Longford Circuit Court heard in December 2010, that the State did not pursue a more serious charge against McDonagh in relation to the death of Mr Keegan as an autopsy indicated that the victim was predisposed to a heart attack - and his death could not be said, beyond a reasonable doubt, to have been precipitated by the assault.
In January 2012, the Court of Criminal Appeal suspended the final nine months of his term.
Noel Keegan and his wife were in Longford town to visit friends when they were followed by McDonagh and punched in an unprovoked attack.
McDonagh, who had failed to return to prison while out on temporary release, was warned that Noel Keegan had heart problems.
However, ignoring pleas from both his girlfriend and Marie Keegan to leave the couple alone, McDonagh punched him twice at Park Road in Longford.