A man who “hurled” an ignited petrol bomb in the direction of a garda who was standing by a vehicle waiting for it to be towed has been jailed for four years.
Gerard Dunne (32) had been spotted by Garda Karl Kelly acting suspiciously cycling around on a pink and white bike before he threw the lighted petrol bomb across a road in his direction. It collided with a curb and smashed, emitting a flame.
Detective Sergeant Eoin Colbert told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that Gda Kelly had spotted the item as it came across the road and managed to run out of the way. He said had the garda been facing the opposite direction he would have been injured.
Dunne told gardaí, following his arrest and having been shown CCTV footage of the incident, “I don't think I would throw a petrol bomb at a copper, I don't think I would be that stupid”.
He denied any intention to throw the petrol bomb at the garda but accepted later that it could have been him when he was informed that gardaí had nominated him as a suspect after they viewed the footage.
Dunne of Coultry Drive, Ballymun, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to endangerment and possession of a petrol bomb on the Link Road, Darndale, Dublin on April 29, 2019.
His 97 previous convictions, include endangerment, assault causing harm, attempted robbery, drug dealing, possession of knives and road traffic offences.
A victim impact statement from Gda Kelly stated that he was shocked as to how easily the incident happened.
“I have thought about it on many occasions and how lucky I was to see it in my peripheral vision, otherwise I would have ended up with life changing injuries.”
He said his views had changed towards his job and dealings with members of the public and the incident had made him “more wary”.
Karl Monahan BL, defending, told Judge Melanie Greally that Dunne said he was in “a drug fueled haze” at the time and claimed he was aiming the device at the vehicle beside Gda Kelly rather than the garda himself.
He said his client's “recollection was largely prompted by the CCTV footage”.
Mr Monahan said Dunne “very much regrets his behaviour” but added that he had used his time on remand in custody to deal with his drug addiction. He said Dunne's heroin addiction had previously led to psychotic behaviour.
Judge Greally said it appeared from the CCTV footage, which was played for the court, that Dunne had been “lying in wait” before he “hurled” the petrol bomb.
“It shows him in broad daylight, engaged in an exercise of scoping and waiting and timing his move when he threw a petrol bomb towards Garda Kelly who was a lone member of an Garda Siochana carrying out his duties.”
“It was by sheer good fortune that his peripheral vision enabled him to see the petrol bomb that was hurled towards him,” Judge Greally.
She described it as “a very serious incident of endangerment” and said Gda Kelly had no expectation of being placed in danger and that the incident “could have had serious consequences” for him.
Judge Greally acknowledged that Dunne claimed that his heroin addiction had led to psychotic behaviour and that he did not specifically recall the incident.
“He has formed the view that Gda Kelly was not his target having viewed the footage. How he is able to say that when he has no recollection, I don't know, but that his appraisal of the event,” Judge Greally said.
She sentenced Dunne to four and half years in prison and suspended the final six months of that sentence for 12 months on strict conditions.