A once "violent and dangerous" killer, who spent much of his 20s and 30s in prison, has been spared a return to jail for threatening to kill gardaí after a court was told that he has not come to the adverse attention of gardaí in the last year.
The Central Criminal Court previously heard that Gerard O'Riordan (37) had broken his suspension bond by threatening to kill gardaí.
In May 2021, O’Riordan, of Arbutus Grove, Killarney, was brought before the Central Criminal Court, which could have revoked the suspended portion of the sentence he was given in 2009 for a killing carried out two years earlier.
However, Mr Justice Michael White said at the time that these matters were of some concern and he would adjourn the matter for one year to monitor O'Riordan's behaviour.
On Friday, Detective Sergeant Ernest Henderson testified that O'Riordan had not come to the attention of gardaí in an adverse way in the last year and agreed with the judge that he was still serving a portion of his suspended sentence.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott said today that now-retired judge Mr Justice White had concerns at the time and that it was his [Mr Justice White's] intention not to make an order if the defendant behaved himself within the year. Having listened to the testimony of Det Sgt Henderson, Mr Justice McDermott said that no further issue arose.
The Central Criminal Court was previously told that the once "violent and dangerous" man has since become a father and attended 24 anger management sessions.
O’Riordan and another man were cleared of murdering James Brazier in Killarney on April 15th, 2007, but were found guilty of his manslaughter.
Their trial had heard that the father-of-three died from multiple stab wounds after being found in bed with the 15-year-old ex-girlfriend of the other killer.
O’Riordan and his co-accused were each given a 14-year sentence. Mr Justice Barry White suspended a portion of both sentences, the final 18 months in O’Riordan’s case.
In May of last year, Det Sgt Henderson explained that O’Riordan had already been serving a sentence at the time, so his jail term for the manslaughter did not begin immediately. He was eventually released in June 2019 and entered into a bond at Mountjoy Prison to be of good behaviour for the suspended portion of his sentence.
However, Det Sgt Henderson said that he made threats to kill gardaí just weeks later.
He explained that gardaí had gone to his home after receiving a call about a noisy party. O’Riordan spoke to them out a window, ‘threatening to stab any guard who came into the house’. “They withdrew,” he said of the officers.
However, they received another call a few hours later and returned to the house. The detective sergeant said that they received a very specific threat this time.
“He’d stab any guard in the neck, who came in,” he testified.
“They took it seriously,” he added, explaining that they were aware of his conviction. “They withdrew again,” he said.
The court heard that he has since been convicted of these threats and received a suspended sentence.
O'Riordan also came to Garda attention in August 2020 when he went behind the counter of an off-licence and threatened to assault staff. This was after another person was refused service. He was fined for this trespass and public order offence.
At the hearing, Dean Kelly SC, defending, suggested to the witness that his client had been quite wild in his youth. “I would say violent and dangerous,” replied the sergeant.
Mr Kelly said that, in the off-licence incident, O’Riordan had taken offence on behalf of "a young Traveller man" who had been refused service. He had waited for gardaí to arrive after the owner had called them.
He said that his client had been 23 at the time of the killing and had spent the rest of his 20s and "the better years" of his 30s in prison.
He said that almost two years have passed since his release, he has since entered a relationship and had a child just months ago.
“He has said the birth of his child was transformative and he has since attended 24 anger management sessions,” he said. “He finds the anger management enormously helpful.”
Mr Justice White said last year that these were matters of some concern.“He’s confronting what has blighted his life,” he said of the anger management sessions, however.
He said he would adjourn the matter for one year to monitor his behaviour.
Addressing O'Riordan, Mr Justice White said: “I’ve been lenient as you’ve served a long sentence. You’re a man gardaí are concerned could still do harm to people. The reason the court is putting it back for a year is you’re confronting that.”
O’Riordan said he understood and agreed to return to court in May 2023.