Ranelagh attack: “Mum was terrified, she kept saying - he put me in a bin and he tried to kill me ’’

Jack MacGowan describes impact of physical attack on mother Marie (86) by Alex Bailey in Dublin but hopes some good can come from it

“If you look at the video, there’s a lot of kicking, Mum’s on the ground on the kerb, he runs and kicks her underneath the rib cage and he put his foot on her mouth, then he picked her up and threw her head first into the bin. You can see the bin opening and her hand coming out and then he would just slam it down.”

Jack MacGowan first saw CCTV footage in court in April of part of the early-morning attack by Alex Bailey on his then 86-year-old widowed mother Marie last September in Ranelagh.

A retired farmer who had worked until she was about 70, he says Marie “was very independent and ran the whole family”.

She moved from Kells more than two years ago to live near her son in Ranelagh and was living in an independent living community in Cullenswood. She had early onset dementia but was managing to operate independently with some assistance.


“She is one of those ladies bent over with the coat on, the pulley on wheels, she would call into the friend beside her, talk to the people in Tesco, and might go and get her hair done every second week. It was not a very exciting life but she was really happy to be able to get around. She would see us every second or third day, she was doing very well.”

He met several of her friends a couple of days after the attack. “They were absolutely scared and said ‘I can’t go out now, there’s no way that guy will be got’, they were very angry.”

“I’m glad he was caught and has got a custodial sentence so people can feel you can’t just go out and do this and get away with it.”

MacGowan discussed the case with his mother and others and their view was they did not want Bailey to get away ‘scot free ... I don’t want him to spend the rest of his life in jail either’

When he saw his mother in hospital some hours after the attack, she had suffered neck injuries, internal bleeding and significant and “awful” bruising.

“Mum was terrified, she kept saying ‘he put me in a bin and he tried to kill me’. I feel a bit guilty about it now but I didn’t believe her, I thought that’s not something that happens.”

After some days in hospital, Marie was moved to the Royal Hospital in Donnybrook where she made some improvement over four months.

“For a month, she did not talk about anything else. She then started shaking, I had not seen that physical shaking before. She would shake like that for hours.”

Some of her injuries are life changing. She has balance issues which increase her risk of falling and her neck is in a brace which is likely to be permanent, he says.

Marie has been in a nursing home since last February and is likely to remain there in light of her balance problems and dementia.

“Who knows how long she would have lasted in Cullenswood? We had an assessment in June 2022 and it was clear she was fine for another year, we were looking at getting her out into more social groups and a bigger activity programme, she might have had two or three more years there.”

“It’s not really about the money, this is about Mum feeling there’s not really an awful lot worth living for any more. I understand why she is depressed.”

He discussed the case with his mother and others and their view was they did not want Bailey to get away “scot free”.

“I don’t want him to spend the rest of his life in jail either,” he adds.

He is very grateful to Redmond Kennedy, owner of the Scoop ice-cream shop in Ranelagh, who went to great efforts to provide the CCTV. “I can never repay him. This would never have come to trial if it was not for the CCTV, and the guards putting 20 people on it. I’m very grateful to Detective Sergeant Cormac O’Donnell and the other gardaí in Donnybrook.”

He is concerned messages about the dangers of drugs are not getting across. “If it is the case that drugs can trigger even 15 to 20 per cent of the population to do something horrific, that is something that must be addressed.”

The second lesson from his mother’s horrific experience is the importance of ensuring CCTV is functioning properly and adequate to cover busy areas, he says.

He is particularly full of gratitude to the three students who were passing on the opposite side of the road and interrupted the attack.

“There was one girl and two guys and she was saying: ‘There’s something wrong’. There’s a decision you make in life, I’m just going to go over there, you’re putting yourself out, you’re putting yourself at risk. I think she saved a life.”

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times