Man jailed after pointing gun at three-year-old boy at crèche

An eight-month jail sentence was imposed yesterday on a man who pointed a gun at a three-year-old child being brought to a creche.

Judge Con O’Leary had adjourned Anthony West’s sentencing until yesterday to consider a psychiatric report and to hear from the mother of the child.

The judge said the report showed the accused man’s lack of empathy, and also showed him to be sufficiently in control of his faculties to come up with a cock-and-bull story about what happened on the day.

Judge O’Leary said it was a serious case and that against a maximum possible sentence, he was allowing for the plea of guilty and sentenced West to eight months in prison.

The mother of the child said it was a very frightening experience on the day, October 12, 2015, and that she still found it frightening to think of what happened.

Inspector Mary King said yesterday that the mother was bringing her three-year-old son to a crèche when she noticed a man dressed in black pointing a gun at her child.

Insp King gave details of the incident at Cork District Court yesterday when 40-year-old man faced sentencing on three charges arising out of the incident.

The incident in Cork City the day after the fatal shooting of Garda Tony Golden in Co Louth. Insp King said that as the woman arrived at the playschool she saw a man taking a firearm out.

“He was dressed all in black dancing around the front of the house,” said Insp King.

“He started pointing the gun at the child. The woman was frightened. She shielded the child and moved him into the crèche.”

Gardaí Danielle Hegarty and Matthew O’Mahony were the first to arrive on the scene.

Gardaí saw West in the front of the house with the black handgun pointed at them.

They got out of range of what turned out to be an imitation firearm.

Gardaí from the Armed Response Unit arrived at the scene and drew their firearms. When they did so, the man dropped his imitation gun.

West, aged 40, of 7 Popham’s Rd, Cork, pleaded guilty yesterday to three counts of making threats to kill, namely threatening to kill the two gardaí and the mother of the child.

Joseph Cuddigan, defence solicitor, said the accused had been diagnosed with a transient psychotic condition as a result of prolonged cannabis use, and that this personality disorder could explain the lack of victim empathy.

Mr Cuddigan complained that before the threatening charges was brought, the accused was before Cork District Court for several months on a charge of having a firearm even though, the solicitor claimed, the DPP knew the firearm charge was never sustainable and would be withdrawn. He complained that this was a Kafkaesque abuse of his constitutional rights.

On that point Judge O’Leary said: “I cannot understand why the charge [the charge under the Firearms Act was ultimately withdrawn by the State] was kept before the court where the State had information it could not be sustained.”

In relation to the account of events given by the accused to his psychiatrist, the judge said it reflected extremely badly on him that he would come up with an account that was so at variance with the one given by the inspector.


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