Letterkenny burglar who stabbed homeowner gets ‘final chance’

May 15, 2023

A Letterkenny man who stabbed a homeowner during an aggravated burglary has been given a last chance to engage positively with the Probation Service.

Fionn Ponsonby was caught hiding in the bedroom of the man’s terrified daughter before he stabbed the man with a penknife in the arm.

Ponsonby was told by Judge John Aylmer at Letterkenny Circuit Court that he was ‘very lucky’ to be given a last chance.

“I will hold my hand again and this is the last time I am doing this,” Judge Aylmer told Ponsonby, a 22-year-old from Ros Suilighe, Oldtown, Letterkenny.

Ponsonby pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at the home of Joe and Sandra McMonagle at Cullion, Letterkenny on November 17, 2018.

Mr McMonagle went to investigate when the family’s pet dog began barking and found the window of his daughter’s bedroom open and a man crouching down behind her bed.

Mr McMonagle 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.

Sandra McMonagle, his 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.

Barrister for Ponsonby, Mr Peter Nolan BL, told the court that his client has started a group work programme through the Probation Service, described as attempting to give him ‘skills around returning to useful employment in the community’.

Ponsonby, who has no previous convictions, is also to start an alcohol and drug rehabilitation programme and has recently engaged with a psychiatrist in the mental health services.

“Eventually it seems, late in the day, that he understands that he has to deal with this,” Mr Nolan said, adding that the accused has applied for a job as a fireman.

“He has sharpened his image and has pulled himself together. He is not a seasoned criminal and we don’t want him to be a seasoned criminal coming back before the court.”

Previously, Judge Aylmer indicated that a four-year sentence, with the final twelve months suspended, would be imposed on Ponsonby.

Judge Aylmer said a probation report on Ponsonby made for ‘grim reading’ and that the offence committed was ‘appalling’

The accused was accompanied to court by his grandmother.

Judge Aylmer said he was adjourning the case until the October sitting of the court to give Ponsonby a chance to engage meaningfully with the Probation Service.

“This is a final chance to get a report to show that he has changed his ways,” Judge Aylmer said.

“If he has not completed co-operation with the Probation Service on the next occasion, he is going to jail.”

Judge Aylmer told Ponsonby that he should consider himself ‘extraordinarily lucky’ to be given another opportunity.


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