A 22-year-old man fired shots from what looked like a real handgun at an unarmed garda sergeant before driving off, shooting at pursuing gardaí, crashing through a toll barrier at Watergrasshill and then firing more shots at officers.
Detective Sergeant Kieran O’Sullivan said that gardaí believed the handgun was real throughout the incident and that an expert who examined it said it would not have been possible for someone to know it was a gun capable only of firing pellets.
Tommy Mannah faced sentencing today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at Old Youghal Road and use of an imitation firearm at the M8 motorway. However, the full facts of the prolonged incident that started at a house on Military Hill and ended on the motorway were outlined.
Sergeant Colin Greenway was one of many officers who responded to the initial call and he was talking to two women who witnessed it when Mannah appeared and aimed the pellet gun at Sgt Greenway.
The sergeant was previously an armed officer for ten years and with his experience he believed that the gun was real. Sgt Greenway was unarmed and told Mannah to drop his weapon. Mannah ignored him and shot a pellet into his arm. Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the actions of Sgt Greenway on the occasion were exemplary.
Det Sgt O’Sullivan said gardaí received a call at 11.30pm on Friday night, July 3 about a man breaking into a car and being in possession of a firearm.
“Gardaí attended at the scene. Tommy Mannah returned with an alleged handgun which he discharged in the direction of gardaí hitting (Sgt. Greenway) in the arm. He then got into the car and drove from the scene.
“He was signalled to stop and he failed. He discharged shots out the window of the car. He crashed through a barrier at the toll plaza.
“A stinger (device to puncture and disable a car) was placed on the motorway. Armed support unit members approached and identified themselves as armed gardaí. He discharged shots at the armed gardaí. (They returned live shots which did not strike the defendant).
“A Tazer was discharged and he was successfully arrested. This was observed by a number of witnesses from gardaí at Military Road to the M8 motorway. Gardaí never lost sight of him during this,” Det Sgt O’Sullivan said.
Cross-examined by Siobhán Lankford senior counsel, Det Sgt O’Sullivan said the defendant was taken to the accident and emergency unit of Cork University Hospital where he was assessed and found to be suitable for questioning.
Ms Lankford said she was not minimising the seriousness of what was a prolonged series of incidents when she said that the pellet gun could be bought legally at a number of stores in Cork city.
“He is currently on anti-psychotic medication. There was nothing like this before from him and nothing since. It was an extraordinary incident,” the defence senior counsel said.
Judge Ó Donnabháin noted that a previously requested probation report was not before the court and he remanded Mannah in custody for sentencing on September 20.