Sunday 17 December 2017

Firefighter acquitted of threatening to shoot colleague in radio row

Declan Brennan

A FIREFIGHTER has been acquitted of threatening to shoot a colleague in the head in a row over which radio station to listen to.

Former soldier Karl Finlay (36) said he asked Derek Dowling “How about I shoot you in the head?” because he felt bullied and intimidated by the other man.

Mr Finlay of Oldbawn Way, Tallaght, had pleaded not guilty to threatening to kill Derek Dowling at Donnybrook Fire Station, Donnybrook, Dublin on April 5, 2011.

On the third day of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, a jury of six men and six women took just over one hour to return their unanimous verdict.

The two men had been working together in the kitchen of the fire station when Mr Dowling tuned the radio into RTE and Mr Finlay switched it back to Nova FM.

Mr Dowling gave evidence that Mr Finlay became “irate” but Mr Finlay denied this and told the court that it was Mr Dowling who “snapped” and put his hands around Mr Finlay's throat.

Mr Finlay, a former soldier with the Irish Army, said that he was freaked out by this and began crying. Mr Dowling said this didn't happen.

The two men were pulled apart but met again in the kitchen about an hour later. Mr Finlay said Mr Dowling began “goading” him and told him to “go sit in the corner and cry like the child that you are”.

Mr Finlay said that these comments made him feel in a “very delicate position”. He admitted telling Mr Dowling to “hit me, hit me, I'll have your job” and said that Mr Dowling warned him to be careful because he was on his “last card on this job”.

Mr Dowling said the defendant put his hand in the shape of a gun and said he would put a bullet in his head and he would shoot the rest of his family. He said Mr Finlay then left the station house and that he was concerned that he was going to get a gun.

Mr Finlay admitted saying to Mr Dowling: “How about I threaten you? How about I shoot you in the head?” but said he meant this as a hypothetical suggestion to try to jolt Mr Dowling into ending the row.

He said: “It wasn't a threat. I pose no threat to Derek. He is a friend and a colleague.”

The court heard that Mr Finlay often talked about owning handguns and a rifle for recreational shooting and had once brought a handgun into the station.

Mr Dowling said he was sickened and scared by the alleged threats. He denied that the reason he waited for 10 days before going to gardai was because he didn't take the threats seriously.

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