Gardaí fled from Kerry farmer with gun

Three gardaí had to run for cover through rough Kerry countryside on a dark, cold night after a sheep farmer produced a loaded Winchester rifle and chased them.
Gardaí fled from Kerry farmer with gun

Judge Thomas E O’Donnell said it was one of the more bizarre situations he ever came across.

John Joe Kissane, aged 47, of Eirk, Muckross, Killarney, had previously pleaded guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee to two charges of using a Winchester .270 rifle with telescopic sights to threaten to kill or cause serious harm to Garda Denis O’Brien and Garda Sean O’Regan on January 16, 2015, at Eirk, Muckross.

His sentence hearing yesterday was told he was a separated man with alcohol issues and, on the night, he was upset over a family matter. His brother had fled the property in fear and he had told his mother that night he wanted to kill a guard, the court also heard.

In evidence, Detective Garda Chris Manton told prosecutor Tom Rice the isolated farm was located near Moll’s Gap, between Killarney and Kenmare.

Mr Kissane was known in the community and had been treated for addiction difficulties.

At around 9.30pm, gardaí from Kenmare responded to a call about a jeep being driven dangerously.

Gda O’Brien and Gda O’Regan, along with Garda Sean Twomey, spoke with him out of concern for his welfare, and were assured he was alone in the house. However, Sergeant Derek Fleming became aware a young person was also in the house.

A child was asleep upstairs and arrangements were made for the child’s mother to collect him.

Mr Kissane’s behaviour then changed.

Gda O’Brien saw Mr Kissane going upstairs and arming himself with a rifle.

Mr Kissane produced a Winchester .270 rifle and said “You are not so brave now!”

Gda O’Brien had to flee for his life, the court heard.

Gda Twomey managed to distract the farmer and the three unarmed gardaí were forced to flee through hedgerows and rough countryside, at one point sheltering under a rock while Mr Kissane was “at large”.

The armed regional response unit and negotiators were called to the scene and, after five hours, Mr Kissane surrendered.

Two legally held firearms and ammunition were recovered the following day. The rifle had a bullet in the breach and another in the magazine and a second weapon, a shotgun, and cartridges were also recovered.

All three gardaí were very experienced but suffered significant trauma, arising out of the incident.

Gda O’Brien, serving for 33 years, is now limited to restricted duties.

Senior counsel Anthony Sammon said his client, who had no previous convictions, utterly regretted what he had done, particularly the sheer terror he had caused and its effect on gardaí.

Det Gda Manton agreed with Mr Sammon the man was a mountain sheep farmer and had a difficult life with little social contact. He was now alcohol-free. At the time, his client believed his world had collapsed, counsel said.

Det Gda Manton told the judge the man before the court yesterday and the man on the night of January 16 were “different persons”.

Sentencing was adjourned and Mr Kissane was remanded on continuing bail to June 16.

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