47-year-old John Joe Kissane of Eirk, Muckross, Killarney pleaded guilty to using a Winchester .270 rifle to threaten to kill or cause serious harm to Garda Denis O’Brien and Garda Sean O’Regan on January 16, 2015 at Eirk, Muckross.
Tralee Circuit Court heard Mr Kissane was “in the throes of a mental breakdown” at the time.
The court heard Garda Denis O’Brien and Garda Sean O’Regan initially called to Mr Kissane’s house after getting a report of dangerous driving and out of concern that he was going through a bad patch.
On their way back to the station they were told that Mr Kissane’s six-year-old son was in the house; the child was upstairs asleep but the Gardai felt he would be safer with his mother, who has full custody.
However, Mr Kissane got his rifle and the Gardai had to flee for their lives with Mr Kissane giving chase through rough countryside in the dark.
The Garda Armed Response Unit had to be called to the scene; where Mr Kissane was still at large.
The main Ring of Kerry road was cordoned off for hours of negotiations; later Mr Kissane surrendered himself.
Tributes were paid to the Gardai who were deeply shaken by the incident.
Psychiatric and other reports were handed into the court by Defence Counsel Anthony Sammon outlining a complete emotional collapse at the time and treatment his client received.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said it was a terrifying ordeal but noted that a custodial sentence would have a great financial impact on the man’s wife and son as he is involved in maintenance payments.
He sentenced Mr Kissane, who has no previous convictions, to five years in respect to both counts, suspending the sentence for a period of five years.
Judge O’Donnell also ordered he not be given a gun licence unless certified as fully mentally stable.