‘Hero’ who fired at armed thugs is cleared in court
A JURY last night cleared a man who was lauded as a "hero" after firing his shotgun three times in response to armed thugs who were threatening to kill him.
Dominic Moloney (47) mouthed "thank you" twice to the jury members after they delivered their verdict at Ennis Circuit Court.
They took 30 minutes to deliver an unanimous 'not guilty' verdict. Mr Moloney was charged with the reckless discharge of his semi-automatic shotgun at his home at Cappa Lodge, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare on September 21, 2009.
During the three-day trial, Mr Moloney said: "I was afraid (for) my life and my child's life and that is the only reason I brought out my gun. It was a warning shot to frighten them for my own safety."
Witness Robbie Maxwell lauded him as "a hero" for producing the shotgun, stating that Mr Moloney saved the life of his mother, Nora Maxwell.
Counsel for Mr Moloney, Pat Whyms BL, said the whole community "was under threat and under siege that night".
Mr Whyms was referring to Michael Lynch (30) and Gerard Lynch (26) of O'Malley Park, Limerick and Jessica Kelly (23), of Lilac Court, Keyes Park, Limerick, who were engaging in violent disorder.
All three have previously been sentenced for their roles on that evening.
At a previous court hearing, when Kelly received a five-year suspended sentence, a judge was told the fracas began with an aggravated burglary.
This escalated into violence involving several households and resulted in An Garda Siochana's Regional Emergency Response Unit being called after shots had been fired.
In his closing speech yesterday, State Counsel Stephen Coughlan BL said: "What happened at Cappa Lodge was absolutely appalling. Inexcusable. Three people who can be categorised as nothing other than thugs ran amok.
"They attacked two houses. They were willing to take on anybody. They were making threats to kill people. That was absolutely shocking."
In evidence, Kelly said that she "got shot" by Mr Moloney and had pellets removed from her leg. However, Mr Whyms said no other evidence from any other witness, including medical evidence, had been produced to support her claim of being shot.
Mr Moloney came home from work that night after receiving a phone call from his daughter Ciara, who told the court she was petrified as she was two doors down from the Maxwell house, which was under attack.
Before Mr Moloney could reach his home, an iron bar smashed the back window of his car as he entered the estate.
The court heard: "Mr Moloney was faced with two lunatics outside his gate with weapons they had already used to break up two other houses and to attack a defenceless old woman and they were threatening to kill him."
Mr Moloney said: "When they were in the pathway of the house, they said that they were going to kill me."
Defending his discharge of the weapon three times, Mr Moloney said: "They were crazy. They could have done anything. I wasn't there to harm anyone."
The court heard that Mr Moloney is an expert shot and has represented Co Clare seven times in shooting competitions.
Mr Whyms said: "Mr Moloney took measures to protect himself. Is that wrong?"
He added that Mr Moloney fired the first shot into the air and the others hit the lower part of a wall. He added: "The extraordinary thing is that it could have been any of us in Mr Moloney's situation."
Judge Tom O'Donnell urged the jury to use their common sense. After the verdict, he said Mr Moloney could leave the court without any blemish on his character.