Man gets suspended sentence for having shotgun in tenant row

A 59-year-old Claregalway man, who after failing to get rid of the noisy antisocial tenants living in a granny flat produced a shotgun to scare them into leaving, was given a four month suspended sentence this week.

Patrick Commins of Slievefinn, Claregalway, appeared at Galway District Court on Monday charged with appearing to be about to produce a shotgun in the course of a dispute/fight in a manner likely to intimidate another person and capable of inflicting serious injury, contrary to Section 11 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990, on January 31, 2012.

Inspector Mick Coppinger told the court that gardai were called to the property where a woman and her children had rented a granny flat attached to Commins’ home. “Things didn’t go well,” said Inspector Coppinger, who explained that Commins had complained about the tenant’s antisocial behaviour and had become frustrated. Commins had asked them to leave the property. He then asked a second time but the tenants refused. Inspector Coppinger then added that Commins “quite foolishly” brought his shotgun with him. The court heard that no shots were fired during the incident and the tenants subsequently moved out.

“It’s outrageous,” said a shocked Judge Mary Fahy, to which Commins’ defence solicitor Tomas McHale explained that the accommodation is attached to the house and that the noise produced by the tenants was elevated.

Mr McHale further explained that the situation got so bad that Commins’ partner left the property “out of fear” and that his client had been left “very scared”.

“He is the one with the shot gun,” Judge Fahy fired back before adding: “Did he make a complaint about being scared?”

Inspector Coppinger informed the court that there had been a number of calls made in relation to problems Commins was having. The court later heard that the gun was seized by gardai.

“He was renting a place in close proximity to the family home. Is that wise? No matter how good the tenants are there could be antisocial behaviour. That is not the way to deal with it,” said Judge Fahy.

Mr McHale then explained that Commins had been led to believe that the accommodation was being let to two people but there were a lot more coming and going. “He realises this was not the proper course of action. It has been very distressing for him and his partner. He accepts it was foolish. There was no intent to hurt anyone. It was to frighten,” said Mr McHale.

Inspector Coppinger then explained that Commins had no previous convictions and that the incident happened in the middle of the day.

“To produce a gun, it brings a different element to it. It’s a very volatile situation. These weren’t intruders, they were paying rent. To produce a gun is not the way to do it,” said Judge Fahy, who convicted Commins and sentenced him to four months in jail suspended for 12 months on condition that he enter into a bond of €500 to be of good behaviour.

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