Father and son jailed over Leeds courtroom outburst


A father and son have been jailed over their outburst in the public gallery of a Crown Court dock when they encouraged a 17-year-old killer to escape.

Thomas McDonagh senior was jailed for 15 months and Thomas McDonagh junior for four months over the incident at Leeds Crown Court.

These men were responsible for some appalling scenes of disorder

Chief Supt Paul Money, Leeds District Commander

Trouble flared as the 17-year-old was sentenced on October 21 last year after he was found guilty of murder after a trial.

Around £900 worth of damage was caused as the McDonagh’s smashed a toughened glass partition and the public seating area was showered with glass. Both men shouted encouragement at the 17-year-old, urging him to attack one of his co-defendants who was beside him in the dock.

The teenager had to be restrained by dock officers and the McDonaghs had to be restrained by police officers. Other people in court, including the murder victim’s family, had to move out of the way, fearing for their safety.

McDonagh senior, 41, and McDonagh junior, 22, both of Copt Oak Road, Markfield, Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and affray. Sentencing them, Mr Justice Openshaw said: “This was no ordinary affray. The judge was passing a sentence for murder. He was doing a grave and important public duty.”

Chief Supt Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: “These men were responsible for some appalling scenes of disorder in a courtroom at Leeds Crown Court. Behaviour such as theirs that causes disruption to the administration of criminal justice cannot and will not be tolerated.

“We hope the significant sentences they have received will send a clear message to others and remind them of the serious penalties such behaviour will attract.”