A man who sent a pig's head to the home of a Garda and his wife is set to be out of jail in time to get some autumn sun in Spain.
Judge Gerald Keys yesterday imposed a two-year jail term on Brendan Mahoney (48) for sending the pig's head to the home of Garda Paul Heaslip and his wife, Natalie O'Neill, in January 2012.
As a result of the two receiving the rotting severed head - which was also split down the middle - the frightened couple were forced to leave behind their life in west Clare.
In his sentencing, Judge Keys said that he would suspend the final year and backdate the two-year term to January 8 of this year when Mahoney was taken into custody in Spain.
Mahoney, of Cabra Park, Dublin 7 skipped bail in June 2013 and remained in Spain where he worked as a barman and his counsel, Breffni Gordon BL told the court that Spain is where Mahoney is happiest and as soon as his time in prison is complete, it is his intention to immediately leave Ireland.
The sentence imposed yesterday means that Mahoney - who has 46 previous convictions - could be returning to Spain by September or October.
A jury last month found Mahoney guilty of sending the pig's head to the couple after deliberating for only 44 minutes.
Judge Keys said that the couple were "profoundly affected" by receiving the pig's head in the post.
In evidence, Sgt Ronan O'Hara said that Garda Heaslip and his wife, teacher Natalie O'Neill, requested job transfers away from west Clare after receiving the decomposing pig's head in the post at their Kilkee home on January 30, 2012.
Sgt O'Hara said that receiving the pig's head "had serious consequences for Garda Heaslip".
"As a result of this, Natalie had to leave her teaching job in the area. She was in fear to go to work on her own or to be in the house on her own, so Garda Heaslip would have to be with her at all times," he said.
"They ended up having to leave the accommodation that they were in … It caused enormous stress to a young couple starting off in life."
In the trial, Ms O'Neill said that she was "afraid", "disgusted" and "horrified" when she saw that a box delivered to her home contained a pig's head.
"I was shocked, horrified, disgusted, probably 17 different emotions all at once. I was afraid. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know what was going on," she told the jury.
In the case, the State presented CCTV evidence of Mahoney at Prussia Street Post Office in Dublin with the box that was sent to Garda Heaslip containing the pig's head.
Sgt O'Hara said that Garda Heaslip received the pig's head from Mahoney after accompanying members from another agency within the gardai to see Mahoney.
Before Judge Keys imposed sentence yesterday, Mr Gordon read out an apology from Mahoney to the couple.
Mahoney said that he accepted the jury's verdict and that he has no intention of appealing the sentence.
In sentencing, Judge Keys said that "sending a split pig's head in the post to a member of the gardai is a serious offence and cannot be treated lightly by the courts".
"They have a difficult job to do and sending menacing articles in the post to them is entirely unacceptable and consequently this court must treat this wrong doing as serious."
Judge Keys said that he had no choice but to impose a prison sentence, but said he would suspend the final year and backdate the sentence to January 8 when Mr Mahoney was brought into custody.