Man jailed for life for Luton hit and run murder as victim’s family pays tribute
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The family of a man who was killed in a hit and run incident in Luton last year has paid tribute to ‘a character like no other’ as the man who ran him down is jailed for life.
Robert Duggan, 60, was found seriously injured in Axe Close on 11 June, after being struck by a vehicle driven by William McDonagh.
The 53-year-old of Verulam Gardens, Luton, was found guilty of murder following a two-week trial at Luton Crown Court in December, and today (Wednesday) was sentenced to life in prison.
He will have to serve a minimum of 16 years before he can be considered for parole.
He 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 daughter Karen was with her father during the incident and attempted to push him out of the way of McDonagh’s vehicle.
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 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.”
The incident happened after McDonagh was heard banging on the windows and door of Mr Duggan’s flat where his daughter was also present.
McDonagh claimed that he was owed money and tried to force his way into the address.
An altercation took place before McDonagh left the property and went to the local shop, where he was seen on CCTV purchasing a bottle of whisky and cigarettes.
A short while later he returned to the flat with the bottle of whisky in his hand and started banging on the windows again.
A brick was then used to smash the living room window. Both 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 struck Mr Duggan.
He died from his injuries shortly after paramedics arrived.
CCTV enquires 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 later that evening and he was subsequently charged with murder.
Detective Inspector 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.”
If you have been affected by crime, the Bedfordshire Victim Care Services offers free and confidential support to victims in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not, and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred.