Jail for businessman who held up courtroom with fake pistol and hoax bomb

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A businessman who held up a courtroom with a fake pistol and hoax pipe bomb in a “terrifying” siege has been jailed for six years.

dmond Dunican (47) pulled out a realistic gun and revealed an apparent home-made explosive device around his neck, subjecting his estranged wife, a barrister and a judge to a frightening ordeal.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced him to eight years, with two years suspended, backdated to the day of the crime, December 20, 2018.

She said it had been a “planned and premeditated offence”.

Dunican, with an address at Stadium Business Park, Ballycoolin, Dublin pleaded guilty to carrying an imitation firearm with criminal intent at a Dublin courthouse.

Dunican, described as a “man on the edge”, had been at a hearing when he took a realistic imitation gun from a briefcase while wearing an elaborate device that resembled a bomb. A fitter by trade, he made the fake bomb at home.

Dunican threatened barrister Lisa Daly, while presiding judge at the time Judge Susan Ryan refused to leave when Dunican told her she could go. The judge stayed in court, repeatedly appealing to him to drop the gun.

The 17-minute siege ended after an armed garda negotiator persuaded Dunican to surrender.

Today, Judge Patricia Ryan said aggravating factors were the fact that it was a “planned and premeditated offence” and the fake explosive was “designed to look like a bomb”.

A number of people had been “obliged to remain” in the court, although others were allowed to leave, she said.

It was brought to a conclusion when members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU) entered with shields. When requested by the presiding judge and gardaí, Dunican did not comply with requests to put down the weapons, the judge said.

She took account of victim impact statements.

In mitigation, the judge said that although Dunican was caught red handed, the value of his guilty plea was taken into account, as was the fact that he co-operated in the garda investigation and gave full details of how he built the device.

She took account of “serious medical conditions” he was suffering from. Just before the incident, documents he deemed important for court were lost in a fire and “he felt this was his only option”.

Dunican had worked as a fitter employing up to 20 people at one point in his successful business. He accepted full responsibility for his actions, showed remorse and wrote a letter of apology, the judge said. A psychological report put him at a low risk of reoffending.

The judge also noted he had been in custody since the date of the offence, where he had suffered hardship and isolation with only one visitor.

The two-year suspended portion of the sentence was suspended for three years, including 18 months of probationary supervision.

At a hearing last week, Det Gda Shane Connolly told Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, that Ms Daly had had a number of dealings during court proceedings with Dunican, who was representing himself.

On the day in question, Ms Daly told the court that it was her last day, as she was going to become a solicitor. When Dunican’s matter was called, he drew the imitation firearm and told Ms Daly: “Did I hear you say today is your last day? You have no idea, Lisa, you have no idea.”

As Ms Daly crouched in her chair, the judge repeatedly told Dunican: “Put your weapon down sir, please.” The court registrar pressed the panic alarm and gardaí­ were called to court over the tannoy system, while Dunican said: “It’s too late for the guards judge.”

Dunican said the registrar and judicial assistant could leave the court and the judge too, telling her he didn’t mean her any harm, but the judge replied: “I’m not leaving.”

The judge continued to reason with Dunican until armed gardaí entered the court and a negotiator persuaded Dunican to surrender.

Ms Daly told gardaí­ it was a terrifying experience and she believed Dunican was going to shoot her in the head or detonate a live bomb.

Dunican’s wife said she was “petrified” and “frozen in fear”.

The court heard the “bomb” was fitted with a metal pipe and a functioning red and green light. The judge told gardaí she had remained “in order to defuse the situation as best she could”. She told gardaí the incident was “surreal” and she had never experienced anything like it.

Victim impact statements were handed into court from Ms Daly and Dunican’s wife, but the judge declined to make one. Fiona Murphy SC, defending Dunican, said he “appreciates the serious nature of the matter before the court”.

The court heard Dunican’s life “crumbled” in recent years. Ms Murphy said Dunican had become increasingly stressed in the months before the offence, that he suffered from heart problems and was “at the end of his rope”.

“He was a man on the edge,” she said.

Online Editors

Source: Irish News