Garda McCabe killer cleared of weapons offence

One of the killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe has been cleared of a weapons offence after a judge ruled the alleged offence did not take place in a public place.

Michael O’Neill, aged 63, was one of four people convicted of the June 1996 manslaughter of Det Garda McCabe, shot dead by members of an IRA gang at Adare, Co Limerick.

He was jailed in February 1999 for 11 years for the manslaughter and released in 2007.

At Ennis District Court yesterday, Mr O’Neill from 68 Abbeyville, Ennis, Co Clare, was charged with producing a wheel brace in the course of a dispute capable of inflicting serious injury in a public place contrary to section 11 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, and engaging in threatening, abusive words with intent to provoke a breach of the peace. in the early hours of January 21 last year.

Sergeant Mark Murphy said Mr O’Neill “took the law into his own hands” and was “the main aggressor” when he confronted another man with a wheel brace.

Solicitor Tara Godfrey said Mr O’Neill produced the wheel brace to repel five men away from his property after honestly believing one of the men damaged his car.

“My client honestly believed that these people had damaged his car and there is a defence in criminal law that in those circumstances he was entitled to threaten to apply force.”

In response, Sgt Murphy said: “I couldn’t agree with that— he took law into his own hands. He saw that there was plenty of gardaí around but he went about it himself to sort them out even though we were around.”

One of the men subsequently paid €200 towards the damage to the car that cost €250 to repair.

Sgt Murphy said that one of the men grabbed the wheel brace being held by Mr O’Neill and held it down until gardaí came over to arrest Mr O’Neill.

After the State completed its evidence, Ms Godfrey made an application to have the case dismissed. “The charge is predicated on Mr O’Neill doing something in a public place. Sgt Murphy confirmed in evidence that Mr O’Neill wasn’t in a public place — that he was in the driveway when he got hold of the wheel-brace.”

Judge Mary Larkin, dismissing the charges, said: “It is quite clear that the law doesn’t extend the public place to a private roadway.”

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