Gardaí disarm man brandishing hatchet and imitation shotgun during welfare check

The court heard the accused made threats to kill gardaí when they arrived at his home in Dublin in the early hours of Friday morning
Gardaí disarm man brandishing hatchet and imitation shotgun during welfare check

Tom Tuite

A 62-year-old man brandishing a hatchet and a realistic imitation pump-action shotgun threatened to kill gardaí during a welfare check at his home in north Co Dublin, a court has heard.

Daniel O'Toole of Baron's Hall Lodge, Balbriggan, was arrested in the early hours of Friday morning. Gardaí believed the shotgun was genuine when they tackled and disarmed Mr O'Toole.

Mr O'Toole appeared at Dublin District Court charged under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act for brandishing the axe and air gun. Garda Conall Shaw told Judge John Lindsay the accused made no reply to the charge and Mr O'Toole has not yet indicated a plea.

During the contested bail hearing, Garda Shaw referred to the seriousness of the incident, explaining four gardaí called to Mr O'Toole's home at about 5am on Friday to conduct a welfare check.

Concerns had been raised by a family member who had received a one-word text message from him saying "goodbye".

Welfare check

Garda Shaw said the accused, who had just woken up, answered his door brandishing a hatchet, but the officers disarmed him. The garda maintained Mr O'Toole, who lived alone, then told them he had a gun in the house.

Garda Shaw said Mr O'Toole bolted to his room and grabbed what they believed was a black pump-action shotgun. The court heard he made threats to kill gardaí.

A struggle ensued in which he violently attacked gardaí as they disarmed him again, it was alleged. The officers only realised it was an imitation gun after they arrested him.

Another officer at the scene, Garda Conal Harkin, said the accused told them: "I have a gun, I'm going to use it" before he grabbed the weapon. He said Mr O'Toole violently resisted as gardaí tackled him.

Garda Harkin alleged the man claimed he had another gun in his house, but admitted it was also an imitation when he got to the courthouse. Gardaí were also searching his house, the court was told.

Judge Lindsay heard the offence could result in a five-year sentence, and further charges may be brought. Concerns were raised that Mr O'Toole was a flight risk and had no ties to his family as he was estranged from his family, the court heard.

Flight risk

In cross-examination, Garda witnesses agreed the accused had not been interviewed and had not given his version of the incident. Defence solicitor Kate McGhee told the court it was an airgun and asked the judge to note Mr O’Toole has no history of bench warrants.

In response to the garda's fears of Mr O'Toole being a flight risk, the solicitor said her client is Irish, did not have a passport, and never left the country.

Judge Lindsay noted that some airguns, depending on their power, were classified as firearms. He deferred ruling on the application for checks on whether the imitation shotgun was capable of causing injury.

Mr O’Toole was remanded in custody to appear next Wednesday for the resumption of the bail hearing. The judge granted him legal aid, noting he was unemployed.

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