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26 Jun 2022

Longford man jailed for ‘vile threats’ which left Gardaí in fear

Longford man jailed for ‘vile threats’ which left Gardaí in fear

A man who assaulted an on-duty Garda and threatened to put him “in a hole” in April 2020 has been handed a two year prison sentence with the final year suspended for three years.

Jonathan Wykes, with an address at Lisnanagh, Edgeworthstown, pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced last week by Circuit Court Judge Keenan Johnson.

The court heard that, on April 24, 2020, Garda Brian Carroll and Sergeant David Bunn were carrying out a number of searches in Edgeworthstown when they observed a member of Mr Wykes’ family walking on the road accompanied by his sister.

The man, when greeted by Gda Carroll, attempted to run and tossed a package, which later turned out to be a taser, over a hedge.

Gda Carroll gave chase and had to use force to get the man onto the ground. The man’s sister, meanwhile, was recording the incident on her mobile phone.

As Gda Carroll was returning to the patrol car to call for help, he took the mobile phone as evidence, resulting in the woman running back to the property, resulting in a large number of the family running out, with Mr Wykes at the front of the group, shouting at Gda Carroll to let the man go and to give the phone back.

The court heard how Mr Wykes threatened to “hammer” them, while Gda Carroll told them to calm down and the situation would be resolved.

When Gda Carroll tried to reach for his phone to call for assistance, the court heard that Wykes hit him on the arm, causing him to drop his phone, which was stomped on by other members of the family. The punch in the arm resulted in a large bruise on Gda Carroll’s bicep.

In an effort to calm the situation, the phone was returned to the family but, as Gda Carroll and Sgt Bunn tried to return to their vehicle, the family formed a line, blocking them.

The court heard that Mr Wykes told Gda Carroll he knows where he lives and that he will “get him” and “put him in a hole”, repeating these threats a number of times.

Shortly afterwards, members of the armed support unit, who were carrying out searches nearby, arrived and the family dispersed.

In his victim impact statement, which was read out in court, Gda Carroll outlined that his phone, which was worth €1,000, had been damaged during the incident. He suffered an injury to his upper arm and psychologically, he had been nervous and extremely anxious for 18 months after the incident and that those feelings have still not disappeared.

“I’m fearful for my family,” he said in his victim impact statement.

“He made serious threats to me and said that he knew where I lived and that he’d kill me. I had genuine concerns for my safety and my family.

“I was fearful of being followed home from work. I had sleepless nights caused by genuine fear that these people would turn up at my house and attack me or my wife.”

Sgt Bunn’s victim impact statement also outlined how he needed medication to sleep for a period of time and still struggles when dealing with public order incidents.

“I worry about my family when I’m not home and I feel I’ll be targeted by other criminals because of social media posts,” he said, referring to videos that circulated on the internet.

These were edited and inaccurate, according to Gda Carroll, but resulted in significant abuse towards both him and Sgt Bunn.
Sgt Bunn also said that, in all his time as a Garda, he had never felt under threat the way he did on that evening.

“I’m not embarrassed to say I was afraid that night. I was afraid we’d be left on the side of the road. I was afraid of what would’ve happened if the armed support unit hadn’t been close by. I was afraid of not going home to my family that night,” he said.

In a letter read out in court, Mr Wykes said he was sorry for his actions that day and that he understood both Gardaí were doing their jobs.

“I’m truly sorry for my actions. I meant no harm to you or anyone involved in this case,” he said.

Judge Keenan Johnson, having heard the facts, noted the seriousness of the case.

“There’s a sinister aspect in those threats where he said he’d bury them and kill them,” he said.

“From the victim impact statements, it’s clear that it was a source of considerable stress to Gda Carroll and Sgt Bunn. It’s not good that a Garda was subject to that vile threat while acting in the course of duty.

“The court has to send out a clear message that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated. It has had a profound negative impact on both of them, in particular on Gda Carroll who took that threat very seriously.”

Judge Johnson proceeded to sentence Mr Wykes to two years in prison, but suspended the final year for a period of three years.

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