A Laois man with serious mental issues has been sentenced to jail for an incident in which he armed himself with a stolen shotgun and threatened to kill a woman in Ballyfin.
At Portlaoise Circuit Court, Martin Casey (26), was charged with production of an article capable of inflicting serious injury, and the unauthorised possession of a firearm, on April 16, 2013, at Old Deerpark, Ballyfin.
Detective Garda Gerard Galwey gave evidence, along with State prosecutor, Mr Will Fennelly that the injured party made a complaint to gardaí that she had been threatened by the accused at her home and he appeared to have a firearm.
On April 16, 2013, he approached her on the curtilage of her land. She asked him to leave and said she would call the gardaí, to which the accused replied: “I don’t care, I’m just here to kill you.”
A neighbour came over and Casey left the scene. The accused did not have the firearm when arrested later, but the firearm was subsequently recovered from a ditch after he brought gardaí to the spot.
The firearm was a single-barrel shotgun, which had been stolen during a burglary. The accused was not charged in relation to this burglary.
Det Galwey said the injured party was very traumatised by the incident and declined to make a victim impact statement, as she was in genuine fear of the accused.
The court heard that in May 2013, the accused fled the jurisdiction and ended up in a psychiatric unit in the UK. Mr Fennelly said that the accused had a very complex psychological history.
Det Galwey added that the accused got involved in the drug scene, which did not help things. He also said that Casey has a fascination with firearms.
The accused had 26 previous convictions.
Defence, Ms Geraldine Fitzpatrick said that the accused had been sectioned in the UK, but there is no corresponding system in Ireland.
Defence read out a letter written by the accused, which said: “Back then my life was a mess… My life is much better now and I can see light at the end of the tunnel… I’m asking for a lenient sentence as I don’t think I’ll last long in prison.”
In sentencing, Judge Keenan Johnson said the threat to the woman in Ballyfin had obviously been very frightening. He noted that the accused has a serious schizophrenic disorder and said that it was likely his mental health state would deteriorate if he were jailed, although he has stabilised since going into custody.
For the possession of a firearm, the judge imposed two years and six months in jail, with the final nine months suspended for five years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond, remain under probation supervision for 18 months, and engage with all relevant mental health services.
The other charge was taken into consideration and the sentence was backdated to April 16, 2017, the date the accused went into custody.