Upset patient said to me 'I have a bullet for your head', dentist tells trial
A dentist has told a court that he felt his life was at risk after a disgruntled patient told him that he had a bullet for his head and would burn down his practice.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Dr Tony Cotgreave said that in May 2012 Eoin Hannan (40) told him in the reception area of his surgery: "I have a bullet for your head, do you understand?"
"He then repeated himself 'I have a bullet for your head, do you understand that? and I said 'yes, I do' and tried to appease him," Dr Cotgreave told the court yesterday.
Dr Cotgreave said Mr Hannan made the threat after complaining that he had abused his teeth in an emergency restoration carried out by him eight months previously at his surgery. Dr Cotgreave said he carried out the restoration work in September 2011 after Mr Hannan broke the 'lower right six' tooth from a chicken bone.
He said after Mr Hannan made his threat on the Friday lunchtime on May 11, he went home and "believed that my life was at risk". In the case, Mr Hannan, of Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co Clare, denies threatening to kill Dr Cotgreave and cause criminal damage to his dental practice. Dr Cotgreave said that Mr Hannan had arrived at his Ennis surgery the previous day on May 10.
"Mr Hannan was most abusive, very, very loud, very frightening and intimidating. Mr Hannan was using the most foul language and told me that I was a f***ing b*****d and that I destroyed his tooth.
"Mr Hannan told me that he would close me down and burn down my practice." The dentist said that he asked his receptionist to phone the gardai "and Mr Hannan laughed and said 'I have the guards in my pocket' and he came up to me and raised his wrists and said that he wanted to hit me."
Dr Cotgreave said his patients in the waiting room were in shock and were screaming.
According to Dr Cotgreave, Mr Hannan said that before leaving, "he would be back and that he kept his promises".
"I was in complete and utter shock, but I was very concerned for my staff and they were in shock," Dr Cotgreave told the court. Counsel for Mr Hannan, Michael Collins BL put it to the dentist his client's instructions were that on the first day, Mr Hannan had said: "I should've burned this place down because of what you said about my teeth."
Mr Collins said that Mr Hannan said this because he felt Dr Cotgreave – while dictating his comments the previous September during the restoration work – insulted the general state of Mr Hannan's teeth and that he was likely to lose them and end up a "gummy bear".
However, Dr Cotgreave denied he said this, saying that while he needed further treatment, he wasn't going to become a "gummy bear as you put it". Mr Collins said that Mr Hannan came back to the surgery in May and said: "You have no right to call yourself a healthcare professional after what you said about my teeth."
Dr Cotgreave said that wasn't said on the day, but said Mr Hannan did make a complaint to the Irish Dental Council and that comment formed part of his complaint. The dentist said that the Council found that he didn't have a case to answer.
Mr Collins said that when Mr Hannan returned the following day, he told the dentist: "Pack up your drills and get off my island," but Dr Cotgreave said that he couldn't recall that.
Mr Collins also told the court that Mr Hannan then said 'I am a bullet' and then left the premises – however, Dr Cotgreave said that this wasn't true.
The case continues today.