A MAN who was due to start a jail sentence yesterday for threatening to kill a female garda was found dead at the weekend.
Conor McCaffrey (27) from Aughacashel, Carrick-on- Shannon, Co Leitrim, died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head.
What was described as an "improvised" firearm was found close to the body.
Two weeks ago McCaffrey was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for sending a shotgun shell, threatening letters, and a picture of a bloody hand to Detective Garda Karen Ryan who had been investigating his criminal activities.
He also rigged a roadside device close to his home to trap gardai in their cars.
However, the Circuit Criminal Court put a stay on the sentence until yesterday, when McCaffrey was due to report to Castlerea Prison, in order to allow his legal team time to lodge an appeal. He had been released on bail.
The Irish Independent understands that the dead man recently contacted gardai and offered to begin his sentence sooner than March 11 but was told he would have to wait because of the court order.
The dead man's family reported him missing on Saturday evening and his body was found in a building in Aughacashel in the early hours of Sunday morning.
McCaffrey was convicted of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to Det Gda Ryan following a jury trial in Carrick-on-Shannon last November. He was acquitted of threatening to kill her colleague Detective Sergeant Sean Hogan in June 2011.
He was also acquitted of harassing the two officers and a third member of the garda investigation team, Detective Garda Sean Walsh, by sending them letters and spent shotgun cartridges in the post between June and September 2011.
The three detectives had been investigating his involvement in serious crime.
Judge John O'Hagan, who passed sentence on McCaffrey, said the communications revealed "a terrible hatred of An Garda Siochana".
Judge O'Hagan said he recognised that McCaffrey had suffered from depression and various disorders since he was 16, for which he was on a cocktail of drugs.
"On one visit by gardai 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.
The Irish Independent has learnt that the dead man was also suspected of burning two cars belonging to local people including an off-duty garda. He was also suspected of carrying out two arson attacks on a secondary school in nearby Ballinamore.
Judge Hogan said McCaffrey came from a "wonderful family" who were "distraught and broken-hearted" by his behaviour.