Judge John Neilan has expressed his concern that people with legally held firearms will feel under pressure to use them when trespassers appear on their private land.
He made the comment when he heard a couple took out a gun when two brothers wanted access to the Nally home at Sonna, Slanemore on April 13 last.
Darren and Enda Nolan are both charged with attempting to gain access to a property with the intention of committing an offence.
Darren who now lives at Dunloe Hill, Ballinasloe was concerned that he wasn’t being allowed access to his daughter and he was agitated when the two men went to the house where his former partner and child were with her aunt and uncle.
Inspector Keyes described how as they arrived, Mr Michael Nally drove in and asked them to leave. They “set on him” said the inspector, tearing at his jumper.
Michael Nally shouted to his wife for assistance and she produced a legally held pump action shot gun for him. It was not loaded but one of the brothers took it and threw it into the hedge. Gardaí were called to the house.
Darren Nolan (25) has a previous conviction for having no insurance and no driver’s licence. Enda Nolan, who has an address at Loughlinstown, Knockdrin, Mullingar has a previous public order conviction.
Mr Louis Kiernan said that Darren Nolan’s long term relationship with his partner had broken up two weeks earlier and there were difficulties with access.
Mr Kiernan said his client appreciated he shouldn’t have gone to the house but was in an emotional state and had no history of any behaviour like this.
The family law situation has since been resolved and Mr Nolan has quality access twice a week and is a legal guardian of the child.
Enda Nolan got dragged into the incident because some texts came to his phone. He went along to the house because he was concerned about his brother and wanted to try to defuse the situation.
Judge Neilan said Mr Nally had been forced to retreat and rely on the gun because he was “under such pressure”.
As a citizen “living life in a quiet, dignified fashion,” he had been subjected to the brothers arriving “gung ho”.
Even when they saw the gun, they decided not to back off, the judge said, but Mr Kiernan said one of the brothers threw the gun aside to defuse the situation and indicated the possibility that the Nally family had overreacted.
The brothers had no intention of hurting anyone, Mr Nolan just wanted to see his daughter, he said.
“Their home is their castle,” replied the judge who said it was a negative factor that the brothers had not brought any compensation to court or taken the opportunity “to reflect on the mayhem they caused”.
He imposed an 11 month sentence on Darren Nolan, which he adjourned to June 25 to allow him consider compensation.
He also disqualified him from driving for two years.
Accepting that Enda Nolan had gone along to pacify his brother, he fined him €1,000.