Wednesday 25 April 2018

Man who shot himself in leg during bungled hit attempt jailed for eight years

A file picture of Charlie O’Neill who was the victim of the shooting on Glasnevin Avenue in Dublin
A file picture of Charlie O’Neill who was the victim of the shooting on Glasnevin Avenue in Dublin

Anne Sharkey and Niamh O’Donoghue

A Dublin man has been jailed for eight years for shooting a 51-year-old man in the city last year.

Thomas Ryan (32) of McKee Park in Cabra had pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Patrick Charles O’Neill on Glasnevin Avenue in Ballymun on August 26, 2013. 

The Central Criminal Court heard Mr O’Neill was shot in the stomach and had to have a portion of his bowel removed. He remained in intensive care until September 11 last.

The court heard Ryan shot himself first in the leg while pulling a double-barrel sawn-off shotgun from his trousers.

Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced Ryan to 10 years with the final two suspended and backdated it to August 28, 2013 for time spent in custody.

Mr Justice Carney said there was “a new form of pernicious crime”, which is increasing exponentially and flows from the drug scene where someone in the grip of a drugs debt is ordered to carry out an assassination or decides to eliminate their creditor.

This type of defendant “is not going to be deterred by high sentences but it doesn’t mean the sentence should not reflect the gravity of the offence,” said the judge.

In mitigation the judge took into account Ryan’s early plea and his admissions before unconditionally suspending the final two years of the sentence.

The court was told that Ryan, who also shot himself by accident in the thigh during the incident, had 13 previous convictions.

Mr O’ Neill was cycling with his friend on 26 August 2013 at Glasnevin Avenue in Ballymun when he noticed a man pulling at his trousers and a shot went off.

A male wearing a baseball cap held a gun out and shot Mr O’ Neill in the stomach, the court heard.

At the time, Mr O’Neill didn’t realise that Ryan had shot himself first in the  thigh, the court was told.

Mr O’Neill described being shot on the left side of the stomach area. He described knowing the culprit to see but said he never had any dealings with him.

The court heard that having been shot Mr O’Neill had stumbled up to a house where a doctor put a dressing on the wound before handing him over to A & E personnel.

Gardai were told that a gunman wearing a blue hat and dark clothing had dropped the gun and run down a laneway.

They observed Ryan had a large open wound to his upper thigh.

When asked what had happened, Ryan said ‘I shot myself taking out my gun’.

Ms Gerardine Small BL prosecuting read a number of interviews to the court that took place following Ryan’s arrest on August 28, 2013.

Ryan had built up a debt as a result of drugs, the court heard. He had been told it was either him or Mr O’Neill and that his family would be in danger if he went to gardai.

When asked if he would have killed Mr O’Neill he replied ‘yes’. Ryan admitted in interview that he didn’t know much about guns and that he had shot himself when taking the gun out.

When asked what he had done after shooting himself, Ryan said he ‘ran up to the fella and shot him’. He indicated that he had panicked and dropped the gun at the scene.

Mr O’Neill did not wish to compile a victim impact statement.

Michael O’Higgins SC defending said that the remorse his client felt was ‘genuine’ and that Ryan had been relieved that the injured party had not died.

Mr O’Higgins told the court that a HSE report in March 2013 described how Ryan was stressed due to threats on his life and was suffering from panic disorder and an inability to sleep. He said that his client would have been ‘vulnerable to the kind of threats that were made against his family’.

He said his client was ‘not a gangland type figure’ and that this was one of few occasions where someone said ‘I will kill someone because I don’t want to be killed myself’.

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