Hit-and-run driver jailed for Luton murder as daughter remembers 'kind, generous and caring' dad

020223 William McDonagh
William McDonagh, 53, was sentenced for murder after a two-week trial at Luton Crown Court. Credit: Bedfordshire Police

A daughter who saw her father deliberately run down and killed has paid tribute to him as the driver behind the attack was jailed for life.

Robert Duggan, 60, was found seriously injured in Luton on 11 June, after being hit by a car driven by William McDonagh.

Mr Duggan's daughter Karen was with him at the time and tried to push him out of the way of the car.

She paid tribute as McDonagh, 53, was sentenced for murder after a two-week trial at Luton Crown Court.

She said: “I cannot put into words how devastating that day was for me and my family.

“My dad was kind, generous and caring. He was a lovely man and his death has left a large hole in my life which cannot be filled.”

Mr Duggan's family described him as a "character like no other".

The court heard the incident happened after McDonagh was heard banging on the windows and door of Mr Duggan’s flat, claiming he owed him money.

McDonagh tried to force his way in. A short while later he returned to the flat with the bottle of whisky in his hand and started banging on the windows again.

He smashed the living room window with a brick and Mr Duggan and his daughter headed outside to see McDonagh walking away.

On their way back, a black car turned into the road and drove straight at them.

Mr Duggan’s daughter managed to push her father out of the way, but the car headed towards them again and hit Mr Duggan.

He died from his injuries shortly after paramedics arrived.

CCTV inquires were able to recognise the number plate of the vehicle and a search began.

A car matching the description was located a few streets away on a cloned number plate which led to the arrest of McDonagh, from Verulam Gardens, Luton.

He will have to serve a minimum of 16 years before he can be considered for parole.

McDonagh also received a further eight-year sentence for causing death by dangerous driving to be served concurrently, plus a disqualification from driving for 36 years.

Mr Duggan’s sister Tina also said: “Robert was a character like no other, loved by his family and so many friends in Luton and Cork, Ireland alike.“To say Robert had a heart of gold would be underestimating how kind and thoughtful he was. His passing has left a gap in the lives of us, his family, that will never be filled and a gap we would never want to fill.”

Det Insp Iain Macpherson from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “I am glad that McDonagh’s sentence reflects the severity of his crime in which a man lost his life over something so insignificant.  

“McDonagh initially pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of causing death by dangerous driving, but the jury didn’t accept this, and he was rightly found guilty of murder.

“My thoughts have been with Mr Duggan’s family throughout and I hope that today’s result gives them some justice.”

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