Mental health unit residents’ money used to make up shortfalls – Connacht Tribune – Galway City Tribune:
Pepper spray and a Taser had to be used to arrest a machete-wielding Galway man threatening to kill gardaí.
The guards had been called in for a domestic dispute, but retreated to their patrol car in fear for their lives.
Kevin Barry, 44, of no fixed address and formerly of St James Crescent, Mervue, pleaded guilty in Galway Circuit Criminal Court in July to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Garda Evan Hennelly and Garda Nollaig McAndrew April 17 last year.
He also pleaded guilty to producing a machete with a six-inch blade with the intent to seriously injure or incapacitate a person at the same time.
The sentence was adjourned to this week for the preparation of reports.
Sergeant Patrick Foley said the sentence as he heard his two colleagues respond to a call from a domestic dispute taking place at Barry’s mother’s home in St James’ Crescent.
They found Barry’s sister in the garden when they arrived. She whispered that her brother had become aggressive inside the house towards her and her 74-year-old mother. At the same time, they observed a neighbor helping Mrs Barry escape the house through the front door.
Gardai approached the front door and knocked. Barry opened the door and became aggressive and agitated when Garda McAndrew asked him what had happened in the house.
He slammed the door in the face of the garda. They decided to return to the public footpath outside the front gate and wait for reinforcements to arrive as the situation had begun to escalate.
Seconds later, Barry came out the front door wielding a machete with a six-inch blade.
“He approached the two gardaí and pointed it (machete) at them, saying, ‘Get off my property effin’. I will stab you, I will kill you.
“The two gardaí called for armed support as they retreated towards the police car on the main road. He followed them and said, “I will stab you. I’ll kill you, I don’t care at all,” Sgt Foley said.
The two gardaí got into their car and backed up towards Mervue Church, 50 feet away, while keeping Barry in their line of sight.
“They had to get out of the situation because they fully believed they would be stabbed or seriously injured if they stayed there,” Sgt Foley explained.
They could see Barry leaving the scene and walking towards Loughnane Terrace 150 yards away.
“He was intercepted by the Armed Intervention Unit who gave him numerous opportunities to stop and take to the ground.
“They deployed an incapacitating spray but, unfortunately, it didn’t have the desired effect. They again gave instructions to lie down. He did not comply and was shocked and arrested,” Sgt Foley said.
In her victim impact statement, Garda McAndrew said she feared for her safety and that of Garda Hennelly that day.
“I believe that if we remained on the scene, he would carry out the threats made against us,” she said.
The mother of one said she had been on the force for 15 years and it 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 find it hard to understand why he was so aggressive towards us. an impact on my work,” 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 at first, but Barry was furious and angry and feared Barry might hurt them.
“I believe that if we hadn’t left the scene and called for help, we would have been injured,” he said.
Sgt Foley confirmed that Barry had 99 previous convictions and was using COPE homelessness services at the time.
He said Barry had five weapons convictions, including four for carrying knives. In two of those incidents, Barry produced a knife to threaten members of the public – including a taxi driver for whom he was sentenced to nine months in prison last November.
There were seven convictions for criminal damage, three for aggravated assault, four for drug possession, two for traffic, one theft, breach of security order and the rest for public order offenses .
Defense attorney Michael Clancy said he was instructed to apologize to Gardai on behalf of his client and the first plea was an indication of his remorse.
The lawyer said Barry had a cocktail of drink and drugs that day, but there was still no excuse for his behavior towards his mother, sister and Gardaí.
“He is a serial drug addict whose deep drug problem has taken him in and out of the justice system since he was a minor and he has spent 14 years of his life in custody over the years,” said Mr. Clancy about his client. .
“This was an extremely violent and serious incident involving members of the Garda,” Sgt Foley said.
In response to Judge Brian O’Callaghan, Sgt Foley confirmed that Barry was out on bail for other matters when this offense occurred.
The judge said the incident highlighted not only the dangers the gardaí face on a daily basis, but also what the gardaí is doing in society to keep everyone safe. He noted that the probation report was very negative and that he considered Barry to be at high risk of reoffending within the next 12 months.
He described how he had completed drug treatment programs in the past, but recently relapsed after suddenly stopping methadone against medical advice.
“You are putting the lives of these Gardaí at risk and you have impacted their livelihoods in the future,” the judge told Barry.
He placed the main sentence for the death threat at six years, before taking 18 months off for the guilty plea, leaving a net sentence of four and a half years for each.
The judge said that despite the slim possibility of rehabilitation, he would still suspend the final 12 months of the remaining sentence, leaving a net sentence of three and a half years to serve, for each of the threats to kill charges.
“Because of some of the things mentioned in the probation report and only because of these, the court will make the two sentences concurrent,” the judge said.
He said the last 12 months were suspended for three years on the condition that Barry behave well while in custody and for three years after his release; that he remains under the supervision of the probation service for 18 months after his release and that he complies with all the instructions of his probation officer; stay drug and alcohol free and undergo random toxicology testing.
Considering the machete charge, the judge observed that carrying a machete was akin to carrying a loaded weapon, as the injury it would cause could be just as fatal.
(Photo: armed gardaí at the scene of Barry’s arrest)
This forensic report was first published in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune on October 7. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in stores every Friday.