John Casey, solicitor for the accused, Peter Scanlon, told Ennis District Court yesterday the defendant’s actions “had nothing do with the water protests”.
In mitigation, Mr Casey said: “On this date, Mr Scanlon was annoyed that when he went for a shower, it wasn’t working and he got very agitated.”
He said Scanlon’s shower was not working as Irish Water workers switched off the public mains along the defendant’s road in Clarecastle.
Scanlon had also complained to the workers the previous day about the noise they were making when installing the meters.
Scanlon of Quay Rd, Clarecastle, Co Clare pleaded guilty to unlawfully, intending to intimidate another person with a firearm and to having no license for the firearm on November 20 last outside his home.
Inspector Tom Kennedy prosecuting told the court Scanlon came out of his home armed with the firearm: “He held up the air gun and pointed it at the Irish Water contractors.
“The workers that were working there were sent fleeing out of the holes in the ground and they retreated, as they saw it, to safety.”
Det Garda Brendan Rouine said Scanlon came out of his home “but didn’t make any threats or comments at the workers. Mr Scanlon approached the workers with the air gun and as soon as they looked up and saw him with it, they legged it”.
Det Rouine said Scanlon walked down the road and threw the air gun – for which he had no ammunition – into the river.
The gun was recovered from the water and it was shown in court yesterday to Judge Patrick Durcan.
Det Rouine said Scanlon was fully co-operative and accepted his role. He said that Scanlon’s two main concerns on the morning were the noise and the water being cut off.
Judge Durcan said: “This man’s actions were not one of protest but reacting to not having his own water.”
Det Rouine agreed and stated that the incident occurred at the height of the publicity around the protests against the water charges.
Det Rouine said Scanlon has not worked for a number of years.
Mr Casey described Scanlon as a ‘harmless man’ who has a number of medical issues and handed a medical report into court.
He said: “Mr Scanlon carried the air gun out and said ‘look what I have’ but because of all the difficulties around water protests that when the water meter installers saw this, they took to the hills’.
Mr Casey said Scanlon did apologise for his actions.
Judge Durcan said: “These are very serious charges. Anyone who confronts anyone with a weapon of any kind, is in my view, committing a very serious offence.”
However, Judge Durcan accepted that in the case, there are very particular circumstances and at the time of the incident, Mr Scanlon “was suffering from a severe form of anxiety”.
“He reacted in an inappropriate way by taking out the air gun and putting the fear of life into people who he confronted with it.”
Fining Mr Scanlon €250, Judge Durcan said that the defendant “did a very, very foolish thing”.
He said it would be improper and inappropriate to say Scanlon was engaged in any protest.“I am satisfied that Mr Scanlon had no intent to use the gun and he was reacting to not being able to use his water.”