A father and son have been charged in connection with an incident in Cork where a shot was fired at members of the Armed support unit as they attempted to search a house.
Tight security surrounded the appearance at Cork District Court on Saturday evening of James Keenan (54) and his 26-year-old son, Peter Keenan, whose house gardaí planned to search as part of a probe into feud in the city.
James Keenan was charged with possession of an improvised firearm, a shotgun and possession of ammunition, and reckless discharge of a firearm, all at his home at Island View, Rochestown Road, Cork on April 29th.
Peter Keenan, who has the same address, was charged with possession of an improvised firearm and possession of ammunition at the same location on the same evening.
Det Garda Tom Delaney gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution in relation to James Keenan.
He told Judge James McNulty that James Keenan replied to the charges: “I am very, very sorry- I didn’t mean to hurt anyone or anything. I am just trying to protect my family from the McDonaghs.
“I have good respect for the guards – they have looked after me the last three or four years. When the gun went off, I didn’t see anyone in the hallway – my sitting room door was closed.”
Det Garda Ronan McGuckin gave evidence of arrest charge and caution in relation to Peter Keenan. He said that Peter Keenan made no reply to either charge when they were put to him under caution Gardaí objected to bail arising out of the seriousness of the charges and their concern that the father and son would commit further offences if granted bail.
Gardaí indicated that they had received confidential information that the Keenans had firearms at the house as they were involved in an ongoing and escalating row with another family.
Gardaí expressed concern that the two men would engage in threats and intimidation if granted bail by the court.
They said that the accused were allegedly caught red-handed by gardaí and faced lengthy prison sentences in the face of convictions being obtained in the case.
Det Garda Delaney said that gardaí would claim that members of the Armed Support Unit were getting ready to enter the Keenan house when a shot was fired at them.
“It is alleged that as the Armed Support Unit were at the entrance to the property, James Keenan discharged an improvised firearm at gardaí – James Keenan was subsequently secured and brought from the house,” he said.
He said that gardaí would allege that garda technical experts found James Keenan’s DNA on the metal part of the shotgun while they also found firearm residue on James Keenan’s hands.
Det Garda McGuckin said that the state would allege that Peter Keenan was caught with an improvised shotgun in the hallway/kitchen area of the property but that he handed it over to gardaí when challenged by the Armed Support Unit.
Gardaí indicated that they found some 20 rounds of ammunition, 23 petrol bombs in addition to a number of hand weapons.
Defence solicitor, Donal Daly put it to Det Garda Delaney that James Keenan denied deliberately firing the gun at members of the Armed Support Unit. The accused claims that he fired it to frighten off other people whom he thought were attempting to enter his property.
Det Garda Delaney said that he accepted that was what James Keenan had indicated at interview. However, he said the fact remained that he had fired a shot at gardaí which had lodged in the frame of the door that officers were about to enter.
Investigating gardaí said that they had called on a number of occasions to the Keenan house in the past week after the family expressed concern that they might be attacked by another family who had been driving past their house.
Judge McNulty said that he was concerned about the feud escalating and believed that granting bail to either man would pose “an unacceptable risk.” He remanded the men in custody to appear again in court on May 6. Free legal aid was granted as both men are unemployed.
A 19-year-old man, a 24-year-old man, and a 58-year-old woman arrested by gardaí as part of the same probe were released without charge. Files will be prepared for the DPP.