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Man is jailed after trying to shoot dead his ex-girlfriend

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A man whose gun jammed when he tried to shoot his ex-girlfriend has been sentenced to eight years in prison for her attempted murder.

Justice Michael White said Gerard Mooney (39), of no fixed address, had come "within a hair's breadth" of facing the most serious charge in Irish law and that but for good fortune his victim would not have survived.

Mooney, a father of three who previously lived in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, pleaded guilty last year to the attempted murder of Stephanie Clifton (28) on February 12, 2017 at Cartron, Co Roscommon.

He also admitted to the possession of a shotgun, making a threat to kill or cause serious harm to Ms Clifton and criminal damage on the same occasion.

He further pleaded guilty to harassing Ms Clifton by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating with her between February 7 and 12, 2017.

The court heard that he made more than 250 calls to her phone between those dates.

He also pleaded guilty to committing burglary at the home of Stephen O'Donoghue, in Cartron, by entering as a trespasser and committing assault causing harm to Ms Clifton.

Justice White said the evidence showed Mooney had been in a "turbulent" relationship with Ms Clifton and could not accept it when they broke up.

He said there were a number of aggravating factors, including that he had been ordered by a court not to contact Ms Clifton when he tried to murder her.

Justice White noted that relationships are often "the most dangerous place for victims" and said this was a "startling example" of the reality where love becomes distorted to something very different.

In mitigation, the judge noted that Mooney had mental health problems and issues with alcohol and drug abuse.

He shows genuine remorse, the judge said, and while in custody has attended courses in anger management, alternatives to violence, peer mediation, conflict awareness and harm reduction.

He has also achieved a certificate of basic literacy.

On the attempted murder charge, Justice White imposed a 12-year sentence but suspended the last four years.

He sentenced him to five years for burglary, eight years for possession of a firearm, three years for criminal damage, five years for threatening to kill and two years for harassment.

Irish Independent