26 Jun 2022

Man who murdered local teenager commits to staying away from home town

Mountmellick man who murdered teenager commits to staying away from home town in Laois

A Mountmellick man who was jailed for life as a teenager for beating a boy to death with a hammer has given an undertaking not to visit the area where his victim's family lives.

Darren Goodwin, formerly of Graigue, Mountmellick, was 16 when he was sentenced to life in prison for the 2003 murder of Darragh Conroy (14).

But he was released last year following a review of psychiatric reports carried out while he was in prison.
A jury had found Goodwin guilty of murder following a trial at the Central Criminal court in July 2004. He had pleaded not guilty to the murder at Briar Lane, Mountmellick on November 11th, 2003.

At a hearing in the Central Criminal Court Mr Goodwin told Justice Patrick McCarthy that he will not travel within an 8 kilometre zone centred on Mountmellick Town unless he is given verbal permission by the probation services. Mr Goodwin's barrister Patrick Gageby SC told the court that Mr Goodwin's parents live near Mountmellick and so he may wish to visit their home on occasion.

Mr Gageby said that the family had wanted to move out of the area but this turned out to not be practical. Mr Goodwin took the stand and replied, "I agree to that," when Mr Gageby put the conditions to him.

Darragh Conroy’s mother had told the court that she had been searching for her only child for hours that night, ringing the phone she had bought him just weeks earlier so that they could stay in touch.

His body was found on waste ground in Smithsfield, Mountmellick shortly before midnight. He had suffered six separate blows to his head, five of which were inflicted in rapid succession with considerable force while he was lying on the ground.

State Pathologist Marie Cassidy said the schoolboy’s skull "had been broken up and was like a jigsaw with some of the pieces fallen out of the wounds."

The prosecution case rested on the evidence of several friends and acquaintances of the accused who testified that he had been talking about killing someone the week beforehand and had admitted to the murder on the night in question.

One classmate testified that Goodwin had said: "Jesus, I’d love to kill someone, someone that no one would care about, like Darragh Conroy."

Another witness testified that the accused admitted to the murder the evening of the killing, saying that he had hit the deceased in the head with a hammer.

Goodwin’s grandmother testified that her grandson had asked her for a hammer that evening but that she couldn’t find one to give him.

The trial heard that Goodwin had met his father for the first time shortly before he moved in with him, about six months before the attack. The teenager had attempted suicide in September 2003.

When passing sentence more than 12 years ago, Mr Justice Barry White said that Goodwin’s psychological reports showed that he was a danger to society and certainly a danger to his father.

He had said the correct sentence for the ‘pre-meditated, brutal, callous murder’ was life imprisonment, but said that he would review it in a decade.

That unusual review took place and it was decided that Goodwin should be released.

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