Farmer drove at speed into station after gun licence refusal

A sheep farmer was so enraged by a garda refusal to give him a gun licence that he drove a tractor at speed into the yard of a Garda station, causing a retired officer who was gardening there to leap onto a flower bed.

The man also threatened to get a gun to sort local gardaí out.

At Westport District Court yesterday, Judge Mary Devins was told that John Burns, aged 62, from Lanmore, Liscarney, Westport, Co Mayo, drove at former garda Frank Kelly in the grounds of the local station, nearly pinning him to a wall and forcing him to jump for safety onto a raised flowerbed.

Sgt Denis Harrington said the accused then skidded his tractor to a stop and made threats to get a gun to sort local gardaí out.

Witness said that on May 25, 2011, the accused then became abusive and angry with the result that a number of people could not get into the station.

Sgt Harrington said that while being arrested, Burns struck out and kicked a witness in the shin.

“He was threatening and abusive and made another reference to getting a revolver.”

Explaining the apparent reasons for Burns’s behaviour, Sgt Harrington said his application for a firearms certificate had been refused at least twice by two garda superintendents.

He had got a gun from a dealer under false pretences and when the gardaí went looking for the gun, he had it hidden away.

Sgt Harrington said that the local station could get 100 calls a day from the accused prior to the incident with the tractor but these calls had stopped since the incident.

Rory O’Connor, defending, said Burns seemed to have a great dislike for people in uniform but he was “a nuisance more than a danger”.

The accused could not mount the steps to the witness box as he had a broken leg. His solicitor said he was just of hospital.

After Burns, who pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving, assault, and public order, gave an undertaking “not to bother the gardaí” further in any way, Judge Devins adjourned the charges for 12 months to see how he behaved.

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