Man jailed for killing best pal in drunken 'play' with shotgun
A man was jailed for the manslaughter of his lifelong friend after he pulled the trigger on a pump-action shotgun as the drunken duo were "messing" with the weapon.
Trevor O'Gorman (45) wept as he was jailed for nine months for the unlawful killing of his friend, hunting enthusiast Diarmuid Byrne (41), on April 26 last at Plunkett Road in Ballyphehane, Cork.
The shotgun was discharged from virtually point-blank range in a bedroom of Mr Byrne's home - with Mr Byrne's left hand on the muzzle as it was held near his head.
Judge Sean O'Donnabháin in Cork Circuit Criminal Court was told that the pump-action single-barrel Beretta shotgun was legally held by Mr Byrne, who was a keen hunter.
"You cannot condone discharging a shotgun in a house in circumstances where somebody dies," said the judge, with the tragedy the result of "recklessness rather than intention."
The judge said that Mr O'Gorman, who had weapons training from the Naval Service, should have known better.
"To play with a gun, sober or not, is reckless. But to point a gun at anyone is phenomenally reckless."
He imposed a three-year prison sentence but agreed to suspend the final two years and three months.
Mr O'Gorman, of Sarahville Place, Pouladuff Road, Cork, pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Sergeant Mark Canny said gardaí found no evidence the duo had been engaged in any argument or any assisted suicide.
"At all times, he [Mr O'Gorman] said he believed the gun was not loaded," Sgt Canny said.
Forensic tests found the shotgun was loaded by the deceased.
Mr Byrne had a blood alcohol level of 237mg while Mr O'Gorman, who was only tested two and a half hours after the tragedy, was found to have a blood alcohol level of 287mg.
"There is evidence that they both had a history of alcohol abuse," Sgt Canny said.
Jim O'Mahony SC, for Mr O'Gorman, said his client was "shattered" by the tragedy.
In a victim impact statement, Mr Byrne's sister, Ber Lyons said: "This loss is only magnified by the way in which he died - too young and too soon."