A LEITRIM man has sentenced to 18 months for threatening to kill a female garda by posting her a spent shotgun cartridge and a picture of a bloodied hand.
The sentence hearing heard that as well as sending the letter, Conor McCaffrey (27) also rigged a roadside device by his home to trap gardai in their cars.
McCaffrey of Mullinasillagh, Aghacashel, Carrick-on-Shannon, was convicted by a jury of five women and seven men following a trial at Leitrim Circuit Criminal Court last November.
He had pleaded not guilty to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Detective Garda Karen Ryan on June 27, 2011.
He also denied threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Detective Sergeant Sean Hogan at Garda Headquarters, Harcourt Square, Dublin on June 21, 2011.
McCaffrey had also pleaded not guilty to further charges of harassing Det Gda Ryan, Det Gda Sean Walsh and Det Sgt Hogan by sending all three letters, spent shotgun cartridges and obscene material between June and September 2011.
McCaffrey was found guilty of just one count of threatening to kill Det Gda Ryan and acquitted by the jury of the remainder. He has 18 previous convictions including harassment, criminal damage, possession of ammunition and obstructing gardaí.
Judge John O'Hagan, who passed sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after it was transferred from Carrick-on-Shannon, said the communications sent by McCaffrey revealed “a terrible hatred of An Garda Síochána”.
“The hatred that came across in those letters was an intent to harm and it was quite palpable,” he said.
“On reading this letter, all I can conclude is that the jury took the view that the wording was such that it was in fact a threat to her life, despite the fact that Mr McCaffrey does nothing but express his dissatisfaction with the guards; and a threat to do away with himself,” he said.
Judge O'Hagan said McCaffrey has suffered since he was 16 from depression and various disorders for which he is on a cocktail of drugs.
“You are angry with the world and you want to do things to show you are angry,” he said.
The judge added that McCaffrey believed that the guards were picking on him and had a grudge against him, but that reaction was inappropriate and very strange.
“On one visit by gardaí to his home, he had set up some weird device by the side of the road whereby the garda cars would be trapped or ensnared and their tyres would be punctured. I mean, this is crazy stuff,” said Judge O'Hagan.
Judge O'Hagan said although McCaffrey has abided by his bail conditions, he could understand why gardaí in Carrick-on-Shannon are “concerned” as to how they might be treated by him in the future.
He said although a probation report on McCaffrey is “constructive” and shows that he has been cooperative, it also says that McCaffrey has “real issues facing up to his offending behaviour” and is “in denial” about his reactions to gardaí.
The judge added that Mr McCaffrey comes from a “wonderful family” who are no doubt “distraught and broken-hearted” by his behaviour. He recommended that Mr McCaffrey serve his term in Castlerea Prison, near where his parents live so that they will have access to him.
Judge O’Hagan put a stay on the sentence until 11th March 2013, to allow for McCaffrey's legal team to lodge an application for bail pending an appeal.
Judge O'Hagan said if bail is not granted, McCaffery will go to prison on that date.