A worker with a grievance against his supervisor took inspiration from the “Unsolved Crimes” TV programme to import poison and apply it to the handle of the boss’s car, confiding in colleagues that it would kill him within 24 hours.
That was on May 23, 2018 at Iron Mountain, Springhill, Carrigtohill, County Cork, and today Thomas Lynch from Lisgoold East, Leamlara, Midleton, County Cork, was jailed for the attempted poisoning of Owen Sheehan.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a sentence of two years with the last 12 months suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Det Garda Cormac Ryan told how Lynch had a row with Mr Sheehan over a pallet truck and when a mediation meeting at the company was cancelled, he attempted to poison Mr Sheehan.
Mr Sheehan contacted Midleton Garda Station on May 24, 2018 to make a complaint that he believed that Lynch had put poison on his car at his workplace so gardai began an investigation.
They spoke to a number of workers who said that they had heard Lynch saying that he had smeared poison on the door handle of Mr Sheehan’s car and that if he touched it, he would be dead within 24 hours.
Gardai called to Lynch’s house but found no poison but in the course of speaking to him, he directed them to Ballinaclasha Wood near Midleton where he showed them where he had hidden the poison in a vial wrapped in plastic in a tree.
The vial was analysed by Dr John Shaughnessy of Forensic Ireland who confirmed that it was the poison Thallium which if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin could prove fatal in 6-15% of cases.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said it might be of some reassurance to Mr Sheehan that the report indicated risk of fatality when Tallium was ingested or inhaled.
Lynch told gardai that he had learned about Thallium while watching a documentary on unsolved crime and he had ordered a consignment of the toxin over the internet from a company in Italy who charged him €70-€80.
Det Garda Ryan said that Lynch, a native of Tralee, who lived alone in a remote rural area in Lisgoold had a previous conviction for drug dealing in 1999 but no other convictions and had not come to garda attention since this incident.
Mr Sheehan said in a Victim Impact Statement that he had been working with Iron Mountain for 14 years and that Lynch had been there for much of that time and he (Mr Sheehan) had always been nice to him and obliged him.
“When I realised the nature of the toxic substance that the accused had procured and that it could have caused death, it really shook me and it terrified me,” said Mr Sheehan who read out his Victim Impact Statement in court.
He said that the incident had a huge impact on his life – he started comfort eating and put on two stone in weight, he continues to go for counselling and is on anti-anxiety medication and medication to help him sleep. He said:
He cannot go out without feeling anxious and if he hears a noise at night, he has to check it out and he set up an alert system every time his name is mentioned online and the experience has taken a huge toll on his partner.
“I never thought Thomas Lynch would be capable of doing something as bad at this- I don’t know if he realises how he has damaged my life with fear and anxiety – hopefully after these proceedings, the fears may subside.”
Mr Sheehan said he was glad Lynch was pleading guilty to the charge and he hoped the court would ensure that Lynch would have no contact with him or his family in the future while he also thanked Det Garda Ryan for his support.
Lynch was fired on the day from Iron Mountain. Months later Mr Sheehan resigned. He said in his victim statement, “When this incident came to my manager and supervisor’s attention I was told to go and wash my car door.
Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “It is a most unusual and frightening case” and he fully understood the anxiety Mr Sheehan felt as a result of Lynch’s actions in smearing the poison, Thallium, on his car door handle.
He said among the aggravating factors was the fact Lynch had very deliberately ordered and imported the toxin and put it on Mr Sheehan’s car but his guilty plea was a significant mitigating factor, sparing Mr Sheehan having to testify.
Judge O’Donnabhain said the maximum sentence available to him was three years and he imposed a two-year sentence on Lynch but suspended the final 12 months on condition he remain under the supervision of the probation service for three years.
The judge described the accused as a loner with very little by way of family support.