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Newspaper extract.

A 22-years-old Raphoe man hanged himself at a quarry hours after he knocked down and killed the three year old son of his friend.

Jonathan Montgomery, a car mechanic originally from Raphoe, knocked down the toddler and his mother, causing her serious injuries, on St Stephen's Day of 2004 after driving his car at a former girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. The tragic accident happened in the Co Tyrone village of Donemana.

After being told by friends, who called him on his mobile phone, that little Adam Warner Mullen was dead, Jonathan Montgomery hanged himself from a crane.

At Tuesday's inquest, sitting in Strabane, the distraught father of the toddler recalled the moment when he had gone out onto the street, having heard screams, to find his three-year-old son lying in an alleyway. He saw his partner, Queenie Mullen, laying on the pavement, covered in blood.

"It was all just a blur. I lifted him up. I was talking to him, trying to bring him around. I just wanted to hold him," he said.

The inquest held by Suzanne Anderson, Assistant Coroner in Strabane Courthouse, revealed that a series of arguments ultimately led to the deaths.

The inquest heard that Mr Montgomery was a family friend and had bought a Christmas present for Adam, and had been invited to dinner with the family on the day of the tragedy Adam was killed when a vehicle driven by Mr Montgomery mounted the kerb at high speed in Allen Park, in the direction of his ex-girlfriend.

The car, however, hit Queenie Mullen, throwing her high into the air. Her son, Adam, had been next to the parked vehicle.

The Court heard there had been an ongoing series of arguments between Montgomery and his ex-partner, Katherine Hepburn. They had been together for four years before splitting in August. Miss Hepburn was pregnant at the time, and she said in court that Montgomery had difficulty accepting that the child was his.

She said that he had been violent on occasions in the past, including putting a plastic bag over her head, threatening her with a knife and pushing her down stairs.

She said that prior to splitting up, she had discovered him hanging from the attic roof, and that she had cut him down to save him. She said he had threatened to kill himself on occasions, as well as threatening to drown himself.

Mr Montgomery's best friend, Mark Nicholl, told those present that on Christmas night, Mr Montgomery had been at his new girlfriend, Melissa Mc Faul's house. Later, they returned to Mark Nicholl's house where he had been staying that week. He said that there were ongoing rows between Mr Montgomery and his ex-partner, Katherine Hepburn, over the parentage of the child she was carrying.

He said that she "constantly taunted" her ex-partner, one time saying that he was the father and the next time saying he wasn't. He said, "Johnny had worked the dates out, and he was working in England at that time, so he knew the baby couldn't be his."

Whilst they had been at Melissa McFaul's house, the witness said that Katherine Hepburn had thrown snowballs at the house. He said Jonathan believed that Hepburn was trying to split Montgomery up from his new partner.


On returning to his in the early hours of the morning, he said that Montgomery "flipped." He said that this was totally out of character, smashing a hoover on the floor and that he had smashed a computer outside the house.

He said that he had tried his best to calm his friend, but he wouldn't settle. He said that Montgomery had gone outside with no shirt on, and according to Melissa had thrown a wheelie bin at his ex-girlfriend's father's car.

Katherine Hepburn and her father Robert 'Jock' Hepburn said that on the night, the fence at the rear of the house had also been pulled down by Montgomery, and that he had also taken the spare tyre from his own car and thrown it at the vehicle owned by Mr Hepburn.

Mark Nicholl said that eventually Montgomery went to bed, but that some time after when Melissa went upstairs she found the bedroom door to be jammed. After several minutes, Montgomery eventually opened the door and according to Nicholl "had the lead from the hoover around his neck in a knot, saying 'I'm fed up with them.'" They calmed Montgomery down, got him to remove the lead, and eventually went to sleep.

The next day Aaron Mc Garrigle arrived to tell Montgomery to come for dinner. Aaron Mc Garrigle said he understood there had been some sort of altercation between Montgomery and 'Jock' Hepburn, so they went to the Hepburn house in an attempt to sort it out.

Mrs Hepburn refused to let Montgomery into the house, but Aaron Mc Garrigle went inside to speak with Robert Hepburn. In the meantime, Montgomery returned to Nicholl's house "in a rage," according to his friend, and angrily demanded the keys of his car. Nicholl said that Montgomery told him he was "going to ram that man's car," he believed in reference to Mr Hepburn, and drove up the park.

It was said that Montgomery drove his car up and down Allen Park a number of times, handbraking upon reaching the end. Kylie Mc Garrigle, sister of Aaron, said that she saw Katherine Hepburn outside her house, shouting "Come on you hardman show-off. Mark Nicholl and Don Nicholl drove their car up to the top, and had attempted to block the path of Montgomery. Nicholl said that whilst parked at the top of Allen Park, Montgomery had told them "That family is doing my head in." He told them that he was going to park his car up, but didn't.

At this point witnesses said that Montgomery drove at pace up Allen Park, before swerving across and mounting the pavement in the direction of Katherine Hepburn.

She stepped back into the pathway of her house, and Montgomery struck her fathers parked car. Screeching brakes were heard as Montgomery struck Queenie Mullen, throwing her high into the air, and drove on. It was unclear in what direction the car went.

When asked by the Coroner, Robert Hepburn said that he did not know whether Montgomery had intended to hit his daughter or just to scare her.

He added that Montgomery was a "good driver," and that he wanted to become a rally driver.

An emotional Aaron Mc Garrigle recalled how he had ran out of the Hepburn's house when he heard people screaming. He said that he saw his partner, Queenie Mullen, laying on the pavement, He said that she was conscious and against a fence. It was at this point that someone called out "Aaron, your kid."

A few houses back, he found young Adam laying in an alleyway. He was laying on his back, and when his father spoke to him he made no response. Mc Garrigle said he lifted the young boy in his arms, because he "just wanted to hold him." He lay him down again, with a jumper under his head, and it appeared as though he had stopped breathing. People at the scene tried to resuscitate him before he was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital, where a doctor told Mc Garrigle that his son had died.

Meanwhile, Nicholl tried without success to call Montgomery on his mobile phone. Eventually, he rang back and said that he was at the quarry. Nicholl told Montgomery that the child had died, and Montgomery said that he couldn't go to jail for what he had done. He told Nicholl "Tell Melissa that I love her and tell them that I'm sorry." With that the call ended, and when Nicholl tried to call back there was no answer.

Katherine Hepburn had also called Montgomery and had spoken to him on the phone. Someone had already told him that the child had died, and he was very emotional. She said Montgomery said that he was going to kill himself, and she told him that she'd get him help. Her father Robert went outside and got Detective Constable Mc Combes, who was at the scene of the accident. The detective spoke to Montgomery on the phone, telling him to stay calm, that the police were on their way, and to "reassure him that we'd get the matter sorted out."

He said that Montgomery was difficult to understand, and that the call had ended abruptly. He added that Montgomery had not said that he intended to take his own life.

Nicholl said that as both he and Montgomery had worked in the quarry, they knew the area well. He said he had gone to the quarry, but was unable to find Montgomery. He did say that in a shed he had found a blue rope, freshly cut with a spade next to it. He said that he was told later that Montgomery had hung himself from a crane.

He concluded that he had never saw Montgomery behaving like that before, and that he knew that he had killed himself because of what he had done.

In her summary, the Coroner said the child's death was as a result of being struck by a motor car which had mounted the pavement.

In the case of the driver of the vehicle, she said that Jonathan Montgomery had died by his own actions, from hanging. She said that he had made his way to the quarry after his involvement in the accident which had led to the death of the young child.

The coroner concluded by offering her deepest sympathies to both families involved, describing it as "a double tragedy in which two young lives were lost.

Copy of Fermanagh Herald News Archive.

Link to Fermanagh Herald Newspapers.

Raphoe man hanged himself after killing friend's son

Publication Donegal News Date September 22, 2006

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