Man told gardai he was trying to kill himself with a shotgun
A man who told gardai that he was trying to kill himself when he fired shots at the home of a mother of three has been jailed for two years.
Paul Byrne (36) discharged a number of shots from the sawn off double barrelled shotgun outside the young woman’s home at Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, on the night of April 25, 2019.
The woman’s young son had just gone out the back of the house and she panicked when she heard the shots and feared somebody was shooting at her son.
When her son reappeared safely she looked out the front and saw a man stumbling around the front of the house. She called 999 and gardai arrived and found the shotgun, a Halloween mask, a trail of blood and a car key.
The key was for a car parked around the corner which was registered to Byrne’s then partner. Gardai later questioned this woman who told them Byrne was using the car on the night.
Gardai went to Byrne’s home at Donomore Crescent in Jobstown, Tallaght, and his mother told them he was missing. A few weeks later he walked into Tallaght garda station.
In a prepared statement he told gardai he had found the gun and he had it for the purpose of harming himself. He said he was drunk and accidentally injured himself in a failed attempt to kill himself.
He said that he earlier had a row with his partner and came up with the plan for shooting himself in the head in a field behind Cushlawn. Byrne subsequently pleaded guilty to reckless discharge of a firearm.
Judge Melanie Greally said Byrne’s explanation was “a most bizarre and inventive and utterly implausible account of what he was doing”.
She said she accepted submissions from his defending lawyers that Byrne had a history of alcohol abuse and depression but that his actions on the night were “not consistent with a suicide attempt”.
Kathleen Leader SC, defending, told the court that her client has a history of cocaine and alcohol addiction. Byrne has no previous convictions.
Noting evidence of damage to the building close to the upstairs window, Judge Greally said that Byrne’s actions exposed a young family to significant danger.
She noted his history of prolonged mental health difficulties and the positive character references from family and friends and suspended the final year of a three-year prison term.