There were times, sitting in Court 2 today, that it felt as if I’d wandered into an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Evidence in a murder trial can often be dramatic but it’s rare to hear about demon slayers and reincarnated lovers, especially before lunch.
Ronald McManus, known to most witnesses as Ronnie Dunbar, sat quietly as his ex girlfriend Angelique Sheridan (formerly Dubois) recounted the most sensational evidence to come so far in trial. He denies murdering 14-year-old Melissa Mahon and also threatening to kill his daughter Samantha.
Angelique Sheridan explained that she had met Dunbar in Sligo Post Office in the summer of 2006. They struck up a conversation waiting in the queue , then went about their separate business.
Angelique was sitting with her daughter in McDonald’s when one of Dunbar’s daughters came in and handed her Dunbar’s phone number on a scrap of paper. A few days later she called him and they arranged to go out. She got dressed up, expecting to be wined and dined, but Ronnie arrived at her flat with his two younger daughters in tow and the four of them went for a spin to enjoy the summers evening.
On the way back they stopped in Lidl to get a couple of bottles of wine for Angelique and pizzas for the kids. She told they court they were just having a nice evening together. The Dunbar family left at around midnight. From that day Ronnie and Angelique were an item.
Over the next few weeks they were practically inseparable. She found him a very attentive partner “a gentleman”. Angelique had also formed a close bond with Ronnie’s youngest daughter (who can’t be named for legal reasons). She was “quite clingy” from that very first meeting, Angelique told the court, and it soon became a normal occurrence for the girl to stay over with Angelique.
It wasn’t surprising then that Ronnie talked to her about the 14-year-old girl who was hanging around his house. Angelique said Ronnie had told her that he was worried about Melissa. “He told me a young girl had come to him and told him she was being abused by her father and beaten by her mother and she had asked him for his protection.”
Angelique agreed to meet Melissa which she did at a picnic with her own daughter, Ronnies two girls, Ronnie and Melissa. Melissa was quiet and withdrawn. Ronnie was preoccupied with the girls and not his usual attentive self.
When Melisssa ran away from home on April 4th 2006. Ronnie told Angelique that Melissa was staying with him. She told the court that he told her he couldn’t tell the authorites where Melissa was because she hadn’t yet made a statement about the abuse she was suffering at home and would be sent straight back to her parents if he handed her in.
Angelique agreed to drive Melissa to a meeting with a social worker that was to take place at Slish Woods in County Sligo. Ronnie arrived at Angelique flat with two of his daughters the night before the meeting. Melissa was in the boot of the car hidden under a red tartan rug.
It was that night, while she talked to the girls after Ronnie had popped out for a while, that she things that threw her into a state of confusion. She told the court that Melissa told her she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra and Ronnie was her reincarnated king. Angelique said Ronnie’s daughter Samantha told her she could see ghosts and her father would protect her from them by catching them in his tattoos.
“One minute I had a normal boyfriend then I had a boyfriend who was a demon fighter.” Angelique said this news worried her and she realised that Melissa needed serious professional help.
The next day she watched from the top of a nearby hill while Melissa met with the social worker Ronnie had brought with him. After they’d left she came down from her hiding place and took Melissa home.
Angelique said the girls told her stuff that deeply disturbed her. Ronnie’s younger daughter told her Melissa was three months pregnant by her father but it was Ronnie himself who dropped the biggest bombshell, she told the court.
Melissa was once again the topic of conversation some weeks later when Ronnie was round at her flat with his elder daughter Shirley. Angelique said she knew that Melissa was still staying with Ronnie and had told him he would get into trouble for not telling the authorities. She said Shirley agreed with her and told him he would go to prison. Angelique told the court that Ronnie then said he would kill the girl before he would go to jail. She said that he had said he had a plan and would strangle Melissa if he had to.
Ms Sheridan disagreed that this was simply a figment of her imagination and said she had not believed it so she hadn’t mentioned it to gardai when she told them she had taken Melissa to the meeting with the social worker. She regretted it now, she said, she might have stopped it happening if she’d spoken sooner.