Burglar who stabbed homeowner told it’s rehab or jail by Judge

February 3, 2023

A 22-year-old Letterkenny man who stabbed a homeowner after breaking into his home has been told he will be jailed for three years if he doesn’t go into rehab.

Fionn Ponsonby was caught hiding in the bedroom of Joe and Sandra McMonagle’s daughter at Cullion, Letterkenny.

He appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he was charged with aggravated burglary.

The court was told Mr McMonagle became suspicious when the family’s pet dog began barking on the night of November 17th, 2018.

The homeowner went to investigate and found the window of his daughter’s bedroom open and a man crouching down behind her bed.

He wrestled with the burglar after Ponsonby had produced a penknife and tried to ‘stick’ Mr McMonagle in the arm.

He began to shout at the accused ‘drop the knife, drop the knife’ as he tried to restrain the burglar before eventually pinning him down and holding him until Gardai arrived.

Mr McMonagle’s daughter was described as ‘absolutely terrified’ as the incident unfolded.

Items were subsequently discovered outside the window including a torch, a Samsung phone, a Nintendo, and assorted jewellery.

Empty cans of Tennents and Carlsberg and a nearly empty bottle of wine were also located.

Ponsonby was arrested, taken to Letterkenny Garda station and initially claimed he had entered the wrong house and fell asleep thinking it was his.

Garda Genivieve Sherlock gave evidence of arresting Ponsonby whom the court was told had been homeless and was taking drink and drugs.

Ponsonby, who is before the court on a charge of aggravated burglary, left residential treatment at White Oaks after four days and has not shown up to ‘a number’ of appointments.

“He seems to have an inability to attend for appointments,” Mr Nolan said.

“He hasn’t availed of the chance the court gave him. He doesn’t seem to understand the necessity of dealing with this in a certain way.

“He doesn’t understand what he has to do to rescue his future.”

Mr Nolan told the court that he asked Ponsonby for a reason for his non-attendance and received an answer he described as ‘entirely inadequate’.

Ponsonby, of Ros Suilighe, Oldtown, Letterkenny, was accompanied to court by his grandmother who Mr Nolan said was attempting to assist.

Mr Nolan said his client had a further appointment in two weeks’ time and asked the court to give Ponsonby ‘one more chance’.

The accused had been beaten up while living on the streets and had been badly assaulted with an iron bar. Ponsonby, who has no previous convictions, was previously robbed at knifepoint and suffers from PTSD, Mr Nolan said.

Mr Nolan suggested that he would put his client in the witness box to give an undertaking to attend, but Judge Aylmer said: “You needn’t call him as I would take it with a pinch of salt.”

Judge Aylmer said he was granting one more adjournment, but Ponsonby was warned that a four-year sentence, with the final twelve months suspended, would be imposed if progress isn’t made with the accused’s availing of residential treatment.

“I am surprising myself that I am giving him another chance,” Judge Aylmer remarked.

Mr Nolan added: “He is in the last chance saloon.”

Ponsonby was given a ‘last chance’ to show the court that he is willing to attend appointments with the Probation Services and addiction treatment.

Judge Aylmer warned Ponsonby that he faces spending three years behind bars if sufficient steps haven’t been taken by the May sitting of the court.