Bail was refused for a former Israeli soldier accused of intimidating a witness by allegedly threatening to kill the owner of a Cork off-licence and burn him out of the premises where he previously stole a bottle of wine.
The accused man, Ronen Tollman, aged 32, of no fixed address said he wanted to be a health and wellness coach and bring positivity to the community.
Mr Tollman was arrested by Garda Derry O’Brien and charged with trying to impede a prosecution by threatening Gary O’Donovan at O’Donovan’s off-licence on Oliver Plunkett St, Cork, on Tuesday, May 5.
Garda O’Brien said Mr Tollman faced charges of stealing a bottle of wine on July 21, 2019, and intimidation of a witness.
Garda O’Brien alleged that Mr Tollman sought out the proprietor of the off-licence and made serious threats to him about the complaint made (that he had stolen a bottle of wine in July).
It was alleged at Cork District Court that Mr Tollman, who previously served with the Israeli army and played rugby for Israel, said on Tuesday morning to Mr O’Donovan, “You are the prick who has me in court. I am going to burn you out and kill you.” It was also alleged that threats extended to others also.
Donal Daly, solicitor, suggested that the guard’s only real issue with the defendant was the alleged threat. Garda O’Brien said he was concerned also with the defendant’s behaviour around the city centre and alleged intimidation of other shop owners. “He created chaos in the city centre in the last two weeks,” Garda O’Brien said. Mr Daly objected to any such evidence being given where there were no such charges against Mr Tollman.
Mr Daly said there was no question of any alleged threats against Mr O’Donovan being carried out. Garda O’Brien said there was not a lot of time as they were only made on Tuesday and he was arrested half an hour later.
Sergeant John Kelleher asked Gary O’Donovan how he felt about Mr Tollman getting bail. “I will be in fear of my life,” Mr O’Donovan said.
Mr Daly suggested that any comments made by the accused were abusive but not threatening. Mr O’Donovan replied that this was “100% incorrect.”
Mr Tollman testified that he was frustrated that he was barred from the premises for stealing a bottle of wine when he had returned the following day to pay for it, and said of Gary O’Donovan, “I have nothing against that man whatsoever.”
As for where he would stay if granted bail, He said he was welcome to stay with his mother in Macroom if he stayed off drink and drugs.
The defendant said he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and was bi-polar following his time serving in the Israeli army and had experienced manic and psychotic attacks.
He said CCTV showed that he did not approach Mr O’Donovan and was actually sitting calmly on a pole.
“I have a little grudge, I shouted a slur at him because I took a €10 bottle of wine which I paid for the next day and I was barred.
“I apologise to him and his staff. I am sorry I intimidated him. It was not my intention. It was not a big complicated thing. For him to say I am trying to hunt him down is outrageous."
Mr Tollman added that he was learning to be a health and wellness coach and wanted to do something positive rather than negative for the community.
Judge Olann Kelleher refused the bail application and remanded Mr Tollman in custody for a week to allow time for the Director of Public Prosecutions to give directions.