TV coverage of soldier’s murder behind man producing knife in take-away

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Reports of the alleged attacker (pictured) were watched by defendant on the day of the offence
A MAN who produced a kitchen knife to staff in a Kilmallock take-away was sub-consciously affected by watching TV reports of an English soldier being hacked to death, a court heard.

A MAN who produced a kitchen knife to staff in a Kilmallock take-away was sub-consciously affected by watching TV reports of an English soldier being hacked to death, a court heard.

Mark Anthony Hobbs, aged 48, of Herlihy Flats, Lord Edward Street, Kilmallock pleaded guilty to five charges - possession of a knife; possession of an article with intent to cause injury; threatening to kill or cause serious harm, assault and threatening/abusive/insulting behaviour.

Sergeant Michelle Leahy said Hobbs entered Megabytes on Sarsfield Street, Kilmallock on June 3.

“He was extremely abusive and was asked to leave. He produced a knife concealed in a pocket and threatened staff,” said Sgt Leahy.

Hobbs’ solicitor, Brendan Gill, said his client is a 48-year-old single man who came to County Limerick 11 years ago due to connections with Kilmallock.

Mr Gill said his client had always been a reasonably heavy drinker but that it got worse when he came to Ireland. A public order charge curbed his drinking but a number of bereavements of family and close friends led him to become a chronic alcoholic.

“He has severe depression and is very isolated. His recollection of events is very cloudy. He woke up that morning, there was a bottle of wine in the fridge and a number of high strength cans of cider which he consumed during the day. He was on very strong medication as well.

“While Mr Hobbs was drinking he was watching news channels reporting on the brutal killing of a soldier in London. He is from the same locality where it happened. His belief is that in his intoxicated state this may have sub-consciously affected him to act as he did,” said Mr Gill.

And this allowed him “to pick on an entirely innocent party” asked Judge Mary Larkin.

“It is his only explanation. When he watched the CCTV footage [from Megabytes] he was quite shocked. He produced, as opposed to brandishing, the knife for a short number of seconds,” said Mr Gill.

It is understood that a number of the staff in Megabytes are from an ethnic minority.

“He grew up in a very mixed neighbourhood and had many neighbours and friends who are Muslims. His only explanation is that his delusional state of mind is why he acted like he did. He has apologised,” said Mr Gill.

Hobbs also pleaded guilty to threatening/abusive/insulting behaviour in Centra on Lord Edward Street on October 18, 2012.

“When gardai were called there were two males on the ground. One was restraining the other. When Mr Hobbs was released by the store manager he kicked out. He was very drunk and shouting obscenities,” said Sgt Leahy.

Mr Gill said this was a misunderstanding with the shop keeper.

“He has changed his medication and curbed his drinking. He hasn’t come to the attention of gardai since,” said Mr Gill.

The court heard that Hobbs had a good work history in driving buses and delivery vans but a back injury meant he couldn’t continue it. He has completed a number of IT courses

Judge Larkin referred Hobbs to the Probation Services and adjourned sentencing until December.