Farmer, 47, pursued gardaí with rifle

A 47-year-old isolated sheep farmer “in the throes of a mental breakdown” who pursued two Kenmare gardaí with a loaded rifle has been given a five-year suspended sentence.

John Joe Kissane, of Eirk, Muckross, Killarney, had earlier pleaded guilty to using a rifle with telescopic sight to threaten to kill or cause serious harm to Garda Denis O’Brien and Garda Seán O’Regan on January 16, 2015, at Eirk, Muckross.

The gardaí had initially called to Mr Kissane’s house after the station received a report of dangerous driving of a jeep and out of concern for Mr Kissane, who they knew was going through a bad patch, Det Chris Manton told Tom Rice, prosecuting.

They were on their way back to Kenmare when Sgt Derek Fleming informed them he had been told Mr Kissane’s six-year-old son, to whom he had weekend access, was in the house. The gardaí returned and the child was upstairs asleep, but the gardaí felt he would be safer with his mother.

However, Mr Kissane took a rifle to them as well as a third member of the force who had joined them, and all three had to flee for their lives through hedgerows.

The regional armed response unit and trained negotiators were deployed as Mr Kissane was at large in a wooded area. However, a successful outcome was achieved in the early hours when he surrendered.

Mr Kissane was “in an irrational state” and this was not helped by alcohol issues at the time, the judge said.

Psychiatrists and other reports were handed in by Anthony Sammon, defending, detailing his “complex personality and complex family dynamic” and “complete emotional collapse” at the time and treatment.

“There is the fact that this is a committed sheep farmer, a very hard-working individual involved in maintenance payments. A custodial sentence would have a great financial impact on his wife and young son,” the judge noted. He sentenced him to five years in respect to both counts, suspending the sentence for five years.

Judge O’Donnell also ordered he not be given a gun licence unless certified as fully mentally stable.


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