Supporting Local News

Taser used to stop career criminal who threatened gardaí with machete


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Taser used to stop career criminal who threatened gardaí with machete Taser used to stop career criminal who threatened gardaí with machete

Pepper spray and a Taser had to be used to stop a Galway man brandishing a machete and who threatened to kill to gardaí.

The guards had been called to a domestic dispute, but retreated to their patrol car in fear of their lives.

44-year-old Kevin Barry, of no fixed abode and formerly of St James Crescent, Mervue, pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in July to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Garda Evan Hennelly and Garda Nollaig McAndrew on April 17 last year.

He also pleaded guilty to producing a machete with a six-inch blade with intent to cause serious injury or incapacitate a person on the same occasion.

Sentence was adjourned to this week for the preparation of reports.

Sergeant Patrick Foley told the sentence hearing his two colleagues responded to a call of a domestic dispute taking place at Barry’s mother’s home at St James’ Crescent.

They found Barry’s sister out in the garden on arrival. She whispered her brother had become aggressive inside the house towards her and her 74-year-old mother. At the same time, they observed a neighbour helping Mrs Barry escape the house through the front door.

Gardai approached the front door and knocked. Barry answered the door and became aggressive and agitated when Garda McAndrew asked him what had gone on in the house.

He slammed the door in the garda’s face. They decided to walk back to the public footpath outside the front gate and wait for back-up to arrive because the situation had begun to escalate.

A few seconds later, Barry came out the front door brandishing a machete with a six-inch blade.

“He approached both gardaí and pointed it (machete) at them, saying ‘Get off my effin’ property. I’ll stab ye, I’ll kill ye.

“Both gardaí called for armed support as they were retreating towards the squad car on the main road. He followed them and said, ‘I will stab ye. I’ll kill ye, I don’t effin’ care’,” Sgt Foley said.

Both gardaí got into their car and reversed to Mervue Church, 50 feet away, while keeping Barry in their sights.

“They had to extricate themselves from the situation as they fully believed they would be stabbed or seriously injured if they stayed there,” Sgt Foley explained.

They could see Barry leave the area and walk in the direction of Loughnane Terrace 150 metres away.

“He was intercepted by the Armed Response Unit who gave him numerous chances to stop and get on the ground.

“They deployed an incapacitant spray but, unfortunately, it didn’t have the desired effect.  They again gave directions to lie down.  He would not comply and was tasered and arrested,” Sgt Foley said.

In her victim impact statement, Garda McAndrew said she feared for her and Garda Hennelly’s safety that day.

“I believe if we remained at the scene, he would carry out the threats made against us,” she said.

The mother of one said she had been in the force 15 years and this was the first time her life had been threatened.

“I fully believe he was more than capable of carrying out the threat.  There was no provocation and I’m at a loss to know why he was so aggressive towards us.  I believe this incident has impacted my job,” she said in her statement.

In his impact statement, Garda Hennelly said he spoke and acted very calmly when interacting with Barry at the front door initially but that Barry was irate and angry and he feared Barry was going to cause harm to them.

“I believe if we didn’t vacate the scene and call for support we would have been harmed,” he said.

Sgt Foley confirmed Barry had 99 previous convictions and was availing of COPE homeless services at the time.

He said Barry had five convictions for carrying weapons, four of which were for carrying knives.  In two of those incidents, Barry had produced a knife to threaten members of the public – including a taxi driver for which he received a nine-month sentence last November.

There were seven convictions for criminal damage, three for serious assaults, four for possession of drugs, two road traffic, one larceny, one breach of a safety order and the remaining ones were for Public Order offences.

Defence barrister, Michael Clancy, said he was instructed to apologise to both Gardai on behalf of his client and the early plea was an indication of his remorse.

Counsel said Barry had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs that day, but there was still no excuse for his behaviour towards his mother, sister and Gardaí.

“He is a serial drug abuser whose profound drug problem has led to him being in and out of the court system since he was a juvenile and he had spent 14 years of his life in custody over the years,” Mr Clancy said of his client.

“This was an extremely violent and serious incident involving Garda members,” Sgt Foley emphasised.

In reply to Judge Brian O’Callaghan, Sgt Foley confirmed Barry was out on bail on other matters when this offence occurred.

The judge said the incident highlighted not only the dangers faced by gardaí on a daily basis but also what gardaí do in society to keep everyone safe.  He noted the probation report was very negative and it deemed Barry to be at a high risk of reoffending in the next 12 months.

It outlined how he had completed addiction treatment programmes in the past but had relapsed recently after suddenly coming off methadone against medical advice.

“You put the lives of these Gardaí at risk and impacted their livelihoods going forward,” the judge told Barry.

He placed the headline sentence for the threat to kill charges at six years, before taking 18 months off for the guilty plea leaving a net four-and-a-half-year sentence for each.

The judge said that in spite of there being little possibility of rehabilitation, he would further suspend the final 12 months of the remaining sentence, leaving a net three-and-a-half-year sentence to be served, for each of the threat to kill charges.

“Because of some of the things mentioned in the probation report and only because of those, the court will make the two sentences concurrent,” the judge said.

He said the final 12 months were suspended for three years on condition Barry be of good behaviour while in custody and for three years post release; that he remain under the supervision of the probation service for 18 months on his release and comply with all directions of his probation officer; remain drug and alcohol free and undergo random toxicology tests.

Taking the machete charge into account, the judge observed that carrying a machete was akin to carrying a loaded gun, because the injury it would cause could be just as fatal.

(Photo: armed gardaí at the scene of Barry’s arrest)
This court report first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, October 7. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up