This is the dramatic moment four terrified youngsters ran in fear for their lives as a gunman fired two shots at them in a drive-by shooting, in retaliation for an earlier machete attack, writes David Raleigh.
Gardaí said the gunman, Adam O’Dwyer, (20), who owed a €100 drug debt, was threatened by others that, if he didn’t carry out the shooting, his mother’s house would be shot up.
One of the youths who sustained pellet wounds to his face in the gun attack was brought from the scene by ambulance but discharged himself from hospital without receiving treatment and declined to make a garda statement.
O’Dwyer, of Abbey View, Island Road, was jailed today for six years with the final three years suspended at Limerick Circuit Court.
Some of his family members broke down in court and hugged him before he was led away to prison from the court.
The court heard O’Dwyer fired two shots at a group of youths from the back of a car as it drove past them at Daglish Park, Moyross, on April 15, 2015.
He pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a double-barrelled shotgun with intent to endanger life.
At a previous sentencing hearing gardaí said they discovered one of the youths with pellet wounds to his face after they responded to the area at 11.30pm on the night.
Detective Garda Enda Haugh said the youth had “obvious pellet marks on his face and body”.
The victim was taken by ambulance from the scene to University Hospital Limerick, but he discharged himself from the hospital without being treated for his injuries.
The youth declined to make a garda statement about the attack.
The car used in the drive-by attack was discovered burnt out in Clonlara, Co Clare.
Prior to being set on fire the vehicle was caught on CCTV footage reversing into an alleyway where the four youths were drinking cans.
Detective Haugh said the rear-seat passenger opened the window and discharged two shots from a firearm at the youths.
Detective Haugh said gave evidence that O’Dwyer owed €100 to another man, described in court as “Mr X”.
O’Dwyer received a phone call informing him he was going to drive the car used in the drive-by.
However moments prior to the shooting, O’Dwyer was handed the gun and told he had to pull the trigger or his mother’s house would be targeted.
Gardaí said they believe the injured youth was the intended target of the drive-by shooting, which was in retaliation to a “machete attack” which took place a number of months earlier.
Andrew Sexton SC, defending, described O’Dwyer as “a naive and impressionable young man” who was easily manipulated.
He the defendant developed behavioural issues after sustaining a head injury in a car crash in 2010, and now had a mild learning disability.
Mr Sexton told the court the shooting was “very much out of character” for O’Dwyer, and that there would not have been a prosecution, but for O’Dwyer’s admissions.
”He was very drunk at the time,” he added.
A hand-written letter of apology from O’Dwyer was submitted to the court today along with a detailed probation report.
Judge Tom O’Donnell noted Dwyer had been under an element of duress, but he said he had to consider the firing of the gun and the injury to the intended target as aggravating factors in sentencing.
He said O’Dwyer’s actions “could have been fatal”, and added, “it’s totally unacceptable in any civilised society”.
Having considered all of the evidence, O’Dwyer’s guilty plea, his remorse, and his cooperation with gardaí, as well as several positive character references, he suspended the final three years a six year sentence with liberty to re-enter the final three years should O’Dwyer reoffend during the suspended time period.