TWO unarmed gardai were repeatedly told they would be rammed and killed during a violent incident outside a house in Rathkeale, a court has heard.
During a sentencing hearing, Limerick Circuit Court was told the incident happened at Fairgreen, Fairhill shortly after midnight on June 7, 2013.
Mother of 17 Brigid Ryan, aged 54, her son Roger Ryan, aged 30, and Robert O’Donoghue, aged 22, all pleaded guilty to violent disorder while O’Donoghue also pleaded gulty to multiple road traffic offences relating to the incident.
Garda Tom Flavin said the incident unfolded after gardai responded to reports of a house fire in Rathkeale.
When Garda Patrick Cronin and Garda Lesley Maloney arrived to investigate the reports, they observed a high-powered silver Ford Mondeo car, which was occupied by five men wearing balaclavas, driving against them.
When they attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver – Mr O’Donoghue – tried to reverse at high speed into a yard adjoining the home of Brigid and Roger Ryan.
However, after the car became stuck in a pillar at the gate, the occupants of the car then retreated into the house before re-emerging a short time later when the two gardai tried to take possession of the Mondeo. “They were told to get out of the yard,” said Garda Flavin.
The court was told that tensions continued to escalate and that at one point a group of around 14 or 15 people emerged from the Ryan’s home. Brigid Ryan, the court heard, was repeatedly roaring and shouting at the others to “get them (the gardai) out, kill them” while her son could be heard shouting “Get the f*** off the property or I will f****** kill you,” on several occasions.
“It was a frantic situation, there were a huge amount of threats and shouting and roaring,” said Garda Flavin who added that his colleagues feared for their safety due to the number of people present and the nature of the threats.
He said the disturbance escalated further when Mr O’Donoghue, who has an address at St Judes, Pennywell, Limerick managed to get back into the Mondeo.
He then drove the car at speed at the gardai a number of times, forcing Garda Maloney to jump out of the way on one occasion.
“He was being told to ‘kill them, ram them out the gate’,” said Garda Flavin who agreed that Mr O’Donoghue was “under a certain amount of pressure” from the other individuals present.
Judge Carroll Moran was told Mr O’Donoghue was arrested on the night and that an analysis of a sample of his blood proved positive for cannabis. He was also disqualified at the time.
Two of the other occupants of the car were never identified while the fifth - Mr X, the court heard, has since fled the jurisdiction.
Gardai Flavin told the court when assistance arrived at the house the situation was diffused although it took some time, he said, before gardai were allowed into the house, which he told the court, had been turned into a fortress as the security shutters had come down.
Judge Moran said Mr O’Donohue had been “out of control” on the night and he said he was “very much at the centre of what happened”.
The judge said he had used the car as a deadly weapon and that it was a major aggravating factor that he was disqualified from driving at the time.
He imposed at three year prison sentence, suspending the final 18 months.
H also banned him from driving for ten years.
The judge accepted submissions that neither Brigid Ryan nor Roger Ryan had perpetrated any violence against the gardai during the incident.
“It was a threat of violence rather than the commission,” he said commenting that Garda Cronin and Garda Maloney had been “faced with circumstances of complete chaos” on the night.
He sentenced the Ryans to three years imprisonment but suspended the sentence for six years on condition they stay out of trouble.