A Castlemartyr man who was never in trouble in his life was so upset by a couple in his neighbourhood expressing baseless concerns about him that he sat in his mobility scooter outside his house with a shotgun on his lap telling others he was going to shoot the couple and himself.
51-year-old William Collins of Tuairin Alainn, Castlemartyr, County Cork, pleaded guilty to making the threats to kill the couple on a sunny afternoon on August 26 last year.
Judge Helen Boyle said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court she could not see the accused posing a threat now due to various mitigating factors and considerable health challenges and she imposed a fully suspended three-year sentence.
Garda James Butler said that on the afternoon of August 26 2021, the couple were collecting their children from school and they were going to go for ice cream.
As the man who was threatened was leaving home that day, William Collins gave him the middle finger. The injured party asked what his problem was, and the defendant referred to the alleged noise made by revving a car.
A short time later, another neighbour saw William Collins in his mobility scooter with a shotgun on his lap. He had an ammunition belt with 25 shells. He told the neighbour he was sick of being called names by the other couple and he was going to kill the couple and then kill himself The neighbour and her husband who encountered him told him to put the gun down and he agreed to do so.
Garda Butler arrived and the defendant told him he was going to shoot his neighbours. He said he had the shotgun inside the house at this stage but admitted he did have it on his lap earlier.
He admitted making the threat to other neighbours that he was going to shoot another couple in the neighbourhood.
William Collins was arrested and detained and the shotgun and ammunition were seized.
Garda Butler said it was established that the complainants – against whom threats had been made - had said things about the accused to neighbours. None of those neighbours shared the concerns and the gardaí were satisfied that there was absolutely no factual basis to the matters raised by the couple, against whom the death threats were made.
William Collins had no previous convictions.
The victim impact statements showed this had a serious impact on them, even though they were reassured that the firearm had been taken from him. Nevertheless it caused them a lot of problems and it caused them a lot of fear.
The probation report said the accused had limited insight into his behaviour and that he had contact with mental health services and they put him at a high risk of re-offending because of the lack of insight. The accused told the probation officer he saw himself as the victim.
Judge Boyle disagreed with the assessment of risk made by the probation service in this particular case.
It is difficult to see how he would have the ability to harm anyone now,” the judge said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Boyle imposed a sentence of three years, fully suspended.