Jail for man who made hoax 999 call about pub shooting

Jail for man who made hoax 999 call about pub shooting

A man who made a hoax 999 call to say there had been a shooting at a pub in order to divert Gardaí who were trying to remove him from his ex-partner's home has been jailed for 15 months.

Brian Johnston (32), who has 205 previous convictions, had been barred from the Focus Ireland property by management who gave permission to Gardaí to breach the door to remove him.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard before this could take place a 999 call came in about a shooting so Gardaí and the armed support unit were diverted there. Five garda vehicles attended at the pub before discovering it was a hoax. Two Fire Brigades and an ambulance were also dispatched but diverted before arriving.

Johnston's voice was later identified on the call and a mobile found at the house was linked to the call.

Defence counsel said Johnston had been released from prison shortly before these events and was homeless. He had been living in a car but this had been seized by Gardaí.

Johnston, of Moatview Avenue, Priorswood, Dublin pleaded guilty to making a false report at a property on Cappagh Road, Finglas on June 20, 2017.

Johnston also pleaded guilty to stealing a car battery, producing a hammer while appearing to be about to commit an offence, as well as driving without a licence or insurance at Baldoyle on September 25, 2018.

Judge Martin Nolan said Johnston had been in a place he should not have been and wanted to “thin out” the Gardaí. He said it was a “reprehensible act” but was a “crime of desperation” on the night.

Judge Nolan imposed concurrent sentences totalling 15 months.

Garda Adrian Reilly told Fionnuala O'Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that Johnston was seen by a security man getting over a rear wall into the property and Gardaí were contacted as he had no permission to be there.

Gardaí could see Johnston in the property and tried to get his ex-partner to open the door but she would not co-operate. Gardaí began informally negotiating with Johnston to try and get him to leave voluntarily

Management gave permission to Gardaí to breach the door and the Armed Support Unit were brought to the scene at 3am. A special device that separates the door from the frame was to be used, but a call came across from command and control of a report of a shooting at the Cappagh House Pub.

Gardaí were diverted to attend that call. In total two armed support vehicles, one special detective unit vehicle and two patrol cars attended at the pub before it was established to be a hoax call.

Two Dublin Fire brigade vehicles containing five paramedics and a fire brigade ambulance containing three paramedics were dispatched to the scene but were diverted after Gardaí alerted them to the hoax.

At 4am the Armed Support unit breached the door of the property and Johnston was arrested.

Gda Reilly said a mobile phone found at the house was linked to the hoax call. He listened to the 999 call and confirmed that it was Johnston's voice reporting a shooting.

The garda agreed with John Berry BL, defending, that Johnston had been released from custody shortly before this incident. He had been homeless on release and was living in a car but this was seized by Gardaí. He agreed Johnston was under the influence of drugs on the night and looks much healthier now.

Gda Conor Guckian said Johnston had been involved in the theft of a car battery in Baldoyle in September 2018. There had been an interaction outside the house with a homeowner in which Johnston produced a hammer after his car was blocked and keys taken.

Gda Guckian said Johnston handed the hammer to another person, his keys were returned and he left.

Gardaí viewed CCTV of the incident and identified Johnston. He was arrested and said he was sorry for the theft. He was on bail for making the false report at the time of this offence.

Mr Berry said Johnston had previously attended for residential drug treatment but relapsed. He said his instructions were that Johnson has been clean of drugs since going back into custody. He said Johnston now has family support and structures in place.

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