“I have to sent out the message that there is no one who can wield an axe and threaten gardaí that he is going to kill them and not expect to get a prison sentence,” said Judge William Early as he imposed the sentence on Michael McDonagh of 197 Dalton Park, Mullingar.
Garda Alan Clerkin described how he and a number of gardaí responded to a 999 call to McDonagh’s address at 3am on July 31 2009.
When they knocked on the door, the 26-year-old appeared at an upstairs window, shouting to the gardaí that they should get away from the house or he would come down and “bate” them.
When he said he was going to get an axe and left the window, gardaí retreated to safety.
McDonagh emerged and threatened to “blade” the gardaí and held his hands behind his back as if he had a weapon. When he next came out he was carrying an axe and said he was going to kill them.
He eventually retreated back into the house.
Under questioning from solicitor Jim Orange, Garda Clerkin agreed that McDonagh appeared to have been under the influence of an intoxicant. He had not come to garda attention since.
The DPP directed last month that if McDonagh pleaded guilty to the charges, the case could be heard in the District Court, but if he was pleading not guilty, he would be sent forward to the superior Circuit Court.
Mr Orange said his client was in training to be a professional boxer and that control of his temper would be essential in that, but the garda said McDonagh was “only recently interested” in the sport.
Mr Orange described his client’s list of previous convictions as a “horrifying litany” and said he was at risk of serving a two year suspended sentence which was handed down for his part in the Dalton Park riot if he offended again.
Of his 26 convictions, two relate to the riot and he was convicted of possession of a weapon and violent disorder.
The judge however, was sceptical that McDonagh, who has 14 previous convictions since 2008, has now learned his lesson.
Mr Orange said the Circuit Court had given McDonagh a chance by suspending the prison sentence, and asked the judge to do the same, saying that if he had any doubt, he should request a probation report.
However, Judge Early did not agree.
“It’s bad enough that Mr McDonagh and members of his community fight with each other,” he said. “But when a garda goes on duty he should expect not to be met with a gentleman such as Mr McDonagh wielding an axe, threatening to kill him.”
He imposed a sentence of eight months but granted leave to appeal if McDonagh put forward his own cash surety of €1,000 and an independent cash surety of €5,000.