Steve O'Brien pleads guilty to causing the death of Danny McGee, during a fight in Queens, New York, and is expect to be sentenced to six months in prison.
Steven O'Brien (26), from Dublin, has pleaded guilty to assaulting Danny McGee (21), from County Longford, who died, having been punched, while outside the Gaslight bar, in Queens, New York.
McGee's family traveled to New York for the hearing. Speaking to RTÉ outside court, Colleen McGee, a native of Queens said “There really are no winners here today. Regardless of what happened, Danny will never come back.
"We miss him every second of every day, and that’s how it’s going to be."
When asked if six months in prison was enough, McGee said she didn’t think anything would make her happy and added: “there’s nothing that’s going to bring Danny back.
“Whether he went for six months, six years, it’s not going to make a change in my life going forward."
She said her son was a "wonderful, wonderful kid” who had his “whole life ahead of him.
"He was a friend to everyone, young and old. He was caring, he was funny. He was a great kid, and everyone misses him."
O'Brien, with an address at 42nd Street, Queens, will serve six months in prison for the offense. This sentence was agreed as part of a plea deal at Queens County Criminal Court, on Thursday, RTÉ reports.
On Thanksgiving Day (Nov 22) 2018, McGee was found lying unresponsive on the ground outside The Gaslight Bar, in Sunnyside, Queens at 4 am. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Blunt impact injury to the head was confirmed as McGee's cause of death.
The court heard that O'Brien punched McGee in the side of the head after the pair became engaged in a row. O'Brien and McGee did not know each other well but had friends within the New York Irish community in common.
RTÉ reports that O'Brien wept in court and apologized to McGee's family. O'Brien was released on continuing bail and will return to court on Jan 8, 2020, for sentencing.
Previously McGee's uncle, Timothy Murphy, expressed his shock that O'Brien had received such a minor charge.
In December 2018 he told the Irish Voice "He’s been charged with the most minor assault possible. That’s just unbelievable.”
Murphy, a retired FDNY lieutenant who worked on 9-11 recovery efforts at Ground Zero, is a past president of the Cork Association of New York. Tim and Colleen were raised in Maspeth by a father from Rockchapel, County Cork and a mother from County Longford. Colleen met her husband Don McGee, also a native of Longford, in New York, and the couple moved back to Drumlish 15 years ago after having two sons, Danny and 20-year-old Brian. A third child, daughter Eva, was born in Longford.
Murphy was asked, at the time, what he would say to O'Brien if he had the chance he said "I don’t know,” he says after a pause.
“I was young once too, but I never did anything like he did to Danny. And he ran away. You don’t run away when something like that happens. You stay and try to help.
“How can someone do that when another person is lying on the street in front of you? I can’t fathom how that can happen.”
O'Brien fled the scene of the crime on Nov 22, 2018. He handed himself into the police the next day.
Danny had decided to move to New York in September of 2017 to see what life was like here, his uncle said. He worked as a doorman in Manhattan and rented an apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, but didn’t relish America and decided to return home to Longford in February 2019 when the lease on his apartment was up.
“He was done. New York wasn’t for him. He just missed home. He had traveled back to Longford four times for visits. He was going to go back home and go to college,” Murphy said.
“He was just an exceptional person, a total joy. He loved sports, soccer, and Gaelic, and he had his whole life ahead of him. I can’t describe how devastated we are.”
The McGees were planning a Christmas 2018 trip to New York to visit Danny. Murphy says all plans have been put on hold.
Murphy said, “It doesn’t matter though because it won’t be Christmas without Danny.”