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Man convicted of shooting woman in the neck

CourtsBy Ralph Riegel
Ciara Sheehan
Ciara Sheehan

A young father was convicted of a shooting which left a woman fighting for her life with a bullet wound to the neck.

Gavin Sheehan (29) was convicted of the reckless discharge of a firearm and assault causing serious harm to Ciara Sheehan (21) by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury.

Mr Sheehan, who is no relation to the injured party, was convicted by unanimous jury vote after three and a half hours deliberation following a week long trial.

He had pleaded not guilty before Judge Sean O'Donnabhain and the jury of seven women and four men to a total of four charges.

The defendant of Laurel Ridge, Shanakiel, Cork denied assault causing serious harm to Ciara Sheehan on May 15 last at Hollywood Estate off Cork’s Blarney Road.

He also denied the discharge of a firearm on May 15 at Hollywood Estate, being reckless as to whether any person was injured or not.

The jury convicted him by unanimous vote on all four charges.

Judge O'Donnabhain remanded Mr Sheehan in custody for sentencing on February 14 next.

The defendant remained silent as the verdict was delivered but shook his head as he looked towards his family in the public gallery shortly before being taken into custody.

The court was told by Donal O'Sullivan BL, for the State, that victim impact statements will be involved and instructions are required in relation to two of the charges from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

"I have to compliment you on the care, attention and consideration you gave throughout this trial. This was a very difficult case," Judge O'Donnabhain told the jury.

Ms Sheehan (21) suffered a serious bullet wound to her neck as she sat in a property that night watching TV alongside her boyfriend.

The young shop worker and Cork College of Commerce student was inside a friend's home when she was injured shortly after 12.30am.

She had to be rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) where she underwent emergency surgery.

In evidence, she spoke of her shock at realising precisely what had happened to her seconds after she heard a window in the property being smashed.

"I felt my throat getting all tight and my face was burning," she said.

"I put my hand up to my neck and it was covered in blood. I realised I was shot."

She went to CUH where she underwent surgery twice as the bullet was stuck in her neck.

The young woman subsequently remained in hospital for six days.

Dillon Cunningham, her boyfriend, told the trial that they heard a bang as they sat and watched TV.

He said there was then a "mad scramble in the house".

Mr Cunningham said that Ciara collapsed and he brought her out to his mother's car to drive her to CUH.

He was so concerned for her welfare he did not even want to wait for an ambulance.

Linda Casey, Dillon's mother, said: "Ciara turned to me and said: 'Linda I've been shot, I've been shot' and then she collapsed."

"Dillon got my keys and half dragged, half carried her out to the car.  She was saying 'call my mam, call my mam' to me."

Ms Sheehan is now making a good recovery from her neck injury.

The defendant had also denied possession at his Laurel Ridge home of Smith &

Wesson Model 6096 semi-automatic pistol with a reasonable inference that he did not have it for a lawful purpose.

Mr Sheehan was also charged with possession of a round of 9mm calibre ammunition, with a similar inference that he did not have it for a lawful purpose.

The charges were brought under the Firearms Act, 1964 and the Firearms and Offences Weapons Act, 1990.