A man who threatened two detectives executing a search warrant at his house that they would meet the same fate as a murdered garda colleague has been jailed for three years.
Jason O'Connor (41) made the threats as his home was searched as part of an investigation into an earlier assault at a pub. The door to his home had been breached by the Emergency Response Unit before local gardaí entered to execute the search.
O'Connor, of Whitestown Grove, Mulhuddart, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at The Paddocks pub, Clonee on November 3, 2018.
He further pleaded guilty to making threats to kill or cause serious harm to Detective Sergeant Shane McCartan and Detective Inspector Joseph McLoughlin at his home on November 5, 2018.
A documentary film crew were accompanying the gardaí at the time and an extract of an audio recording caught by the crews microphones was played in court.
“Come in me cul de sac the next time, see what happened your mate up in Drogheda ya prick ya at the credit union that's what your going to fucking get,” O'Connor told the gardaí, “You fucking watch and you watch as well McLoughlin.”
“Fucking scum reporters and all outside the gaff,” he continued.
Detective Inspector Pamela Waters told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, said the comments were implied to refer to the death of a garda colleague in Co Louth and the threats were taken seriously.
The court heard the search was conducted following an assault by O'Connor on a man in a pub. The victim did not co-operate with the garda investigation and the prosecution relied on CCTV footage.
O'Connor has 64 previous convictions, the majority of which are road traffic offences but also include possession of knives, burglary and possession of a mobile phone in prison.
Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, submitted O'Connor was in his boxer shorts when his door was breached, gardai came in and a camera crew was outside. He said there may have been resentment and anger being released, something may have been said in anger but it abated quickly.
Counsel asked the court to take into account that O'Connor had later that same day told gardai during interview that the threats being realised “was not a runner.”
Judge Martin Nolan said the assault victim had been viciously slashed but noted O'Connor's plea was a valuable one in a case where the victim would have been a reluctant witness at the very least.
Judge Nolan said that during the follow up search of O'Connor's home a degree of consternation must have been caused to the occupants of the house to find a camera crew outside with equipment.
Judge Nolan imposed a three year sentence in relation to the assault and one year concurrent sentences in relation to the threats. The sentence is to be backdated to reflect time in custody.
During the sentence hearing Det Insp Waters told Ms Duffy that witnesses describe O'Connor entering the The Paddocks pub and assaulting a man. He was seen with a Stanley blade in his hand and swung punches at the man who was slashed in the neck, chest and stomach area.
The victim initially refused medical treatment but was taken to hospital. He did not wish to make a statement to gardai, co-operate with the investigation or complete a victim impact statement.
The garda investigation relied on CCTV footage of the incident and O'Connor was nominated as a suspect. A decision was made to speak to him and search his home.
Det Insp Waters said it was considered appropriate that the ERU would breach the door and contain those inside before gardai entered. She said there were three people inside – O'Connor, his partner and an infant.
Det Insp Waters told Mr O'Higgins that the breach of the door, which knocked the door off its hinges, occurred at 7am. She agreed that O'Connor had been in bed, was in his boxer shorts and was handcuffed by the ERU before local gardai came in and changed the handcuffs.
Det Insp Waters said O'Connor answered most questions during garda interview with “no comment” or no answer. She agreed with Mr O'Higgins that O'Connor did say during interview that he did not intend to carry out the threats.
Mr O'Higgins said O'Connor's father had been alcohol dependent and violent towards his client during his childhood.
He said O'Connor had a serious benzodiazepine addiction and significant mental health issues including signs of post traumatic stress disorder related to the death of a friend. He asked the court to take into account the value of O'Connor's plea in relation to the assault case.