NewsCrime Desk

Butter covered man yelled “come on ye b**tards’ at gardai during standoff

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
Michael Rooney
Michael Rooney

THIS IS the face of the slippery crim who covered his upper body in butter in a bid to give cops the slip.

Tralee Circuit Court heard this week how 35-year-old Michael Rooney covered himself in butter while also wielding a large knife and threatening to kill two gardaí.

The father-of-two, from O’Connell Avenue, Listowel, Co. Kerry, stripped to his waist and was wearing only jeans to enable him to better apply the butter, a court hearing was told.

He said he had been imitating a scene from the 2008 movie Bronson — a film starring Tom Hardy and based on a notorious U.K. criminal.

Despite the fact his story made worldwide headlines, a family member this week told the Sunday World he did not wish to court further publicity.

“He has children, do you realise that? Don’t call this number again or I’ll get the Gardaí on to you,” they said.

Rooney claimed he had been drinking heavily and had been on medication at the time.

His behaviour on the day was “out of character”, the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee was told.

Gardaí were called to Rooney’s house after he had broken most of the furniture in the home he shared with his partner.

He had barricaded himself into the house, jammed two chairs against the door, stripped and applied the butter. He waved a 14-inch knife and roared at gardaí: “Come in ye bastards.”

The gardaí had to use two rounds of pepper spray before eventually subduing him.

Rooney pleaded guilty last year to three counts in relation to the incident, threatening to kill two gardaí, Sgt Tim O’Keeffe and Garda Colin McCarthy, and also admitted to having a knife on October 20, 2014.

He had also quickly written a letter of apology and had given up drink, and had done much “to rehabilitate himself”, the court was told.

His barrister Katie O’Connell said his partner and their two children were still with him.

Unemployed at the time, and previously having worked in the U.K., he was drinking due to boredom, and was on medication, a psychiatrist’s report had detailed.

“This was a very frightening incident,” said Judge O’Donnell.

“Violence was proffered and a weapon was involved and the butter aspect did not help in any respect.”

However, he noted there was genuine remorse and “Gardaí feel this behaviour on the day was totally out of character for the accused”.

Judge O’Donnell sentenced Rooney to two years on each of the three counts, concurrently, but backdated to May 2015 when he had pleaded guilty and suspended the sentence for two years, binding him to the peace.