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Man jailed for pointing replica gun at garda's head to "terrify" him

The man threatened to shoot the officer.

A WOULD-BE robber who pointed a replica gun at a garda’s head and threatened to shoot him while the officer was restraining his accomplice has been jailed for five years.

Michael Fagan (24) and his juvenile co-accused tried to rob a shop when off-duty garda, Brendan O’Toole, spotted what was happening.

He had been driving along Mount Pleasant Avenue in Dublin 6 on his way to work when he saw the raiders running into the shop.

Teen raider

Garda O’Toole alerted the nearby garda station and tried to block both men leaving the shop but Fagan managed to get out. The garda held onto the other teenage raider, pulled off his hood and instantly recognised him.

Detective Garda Conor Breslin told Colm O’Briain BL, prosecuting that Fagan then came back into the shop, held the gun up and demanded that Garda O’Toole let the youth go.

He threatened to shoot him in the head to which Garda O’Toole replied:

I am a garda, don’t shoot.

Fagan continued to point the gun at the garda who was still trying to restrain the teenager but when he was threatened again Garda O’Toole let the robber go and both made their escape.

Det Garda Breslin said Garda O’Toole gave chase and ultimately caught Fagan and arrested him.

Guilty plea

Fagan of Sperrin Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempted robbery of Muhammed Shafiq and possession of an imitation firearm with intention to commit robbery at Collins Food Store, Mount Pleasant Avenue, Dublin 6 on May 22, 2014.

His 48 previous convictions include burglary, assault and criminal damage.

Judge Martin Nolan said Garda O’Toole had every reason to believe that he was going to die.

He said Fagan had produced the gun with the intention of terrifying those present “and he certainly succeeded”.

Judge Nolan accepted that while Fagan “exhibited no remorse at the time, he has since reflected and indicates his remorse”.

Det Garda Breslin said Fagan was later interviewed and exercised his right to silence. At one point when Garda O’Toole came into the interview room and was identified as the officer who he had threatened to shoot, Fagan laughed at him.

A victim impact report before the court said that some months later Garda O’Toole was walking past the same shop and spotted a group of youths causing trouble. He went into the shop and told the group to move on.

He said Mr Shafiq approached him and embraced him, thanking him for helping him during the attempted raid.

He said the man was crying so much he could barely speak.

Garda O’Toole also stated that over the last year he has had to live with the realisation that his life could have been taken so easily. He said he worries about how long this will affect him.

Det Garda Breslin agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that the firearm was a realistic-looking replica gun.

‘Cold comfort’

He also accepted that the co-accused has since been dealt with and received a two year suspended sentence.

Mr Bowman said although it was an imitation gun this would have been “cold comfort” for Garda O’Toole and acknowledged the considerable difficulties it has caused the officer.

Counsel accepted that although Fagan didn’t show any remorse at the time, he has since written a letter for the court apologising for his behaviour.

Bowman submitted that the crime represented “a radical departure” from Fagan’s previous convictions and was “a considerable escalation in his criminal behaviour”.

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Sonya McLean and Fiona Ferguson
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