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'serious matter' Man (20) accused of 'threatening to poison' Garda sergeant's horses

Evan Downes is alleged to have made the threat against Sgt Edel Burke’s horses on April 4 last year during the first Covid-19 lockdown

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A man is accused of threatening to poison the horses of a Garda sergeant.

Evan Downes (20) is alleged to have made the threat against Sgt Edel Burke’s horses on April 4 last year during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Outlining the State’s case against Mr Downes at Kilrush District Court, Sgt Louis Moloney said Sgt Burke and a Garda colleague were on Covid patrol at 2.40pm in Kilmihil, Co Clare, when the threat was made against Sgt Burke’s horses, which are valued at €40,000.

Sgt Moloney said it would be alleged that Mr Downes “threatened to poison Sgt Burke’s horses”.

Sgt Moloney alleged that Mr Downes said to Sgt Burke “what if your horses get poisoned?”

Sgt Moloney told the court that Sgt Burke lives in the locality and that Sgt Burke felt threatened by the comment made.

Sgt Moloney stated that Sgt Burke’s horse livestock was valued in excess of €40,000 at the time.

The sergeant stated that a brother of Mr Downes captured on video “the tail end” of the interaction between Mr Downes and Sgt Burke on his mobile phone. The phone was seized by gardaí.

Mr Downes, of St Michael’s Place, Kilmihil, is charged with threatening to cause criminal damage and a public order offence on the date.

After hearing an outline of the facts against Mr Downes, Judge Sandra Murphy declined jurisdiction and ruled that the case be heard in the circuit court where more serious penalties apply on conviction.

Judge Murphy said “it is a very serious matter”.

Judge Murphy also transferred a separate prosecution against Mr Downes to the circuit court after hearing that he allegedly pointed an imitation firearm at members of the public in his housing estate in Kilmihil in April of last year.

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Giving an outline of the case, Sgt Moloney alleged that Mr Downes was observed by a Garda standing outside his home at 1.05pm on April 11, 2020, “holding a rifle with its scope in its firing position moving the barrel around pointing in the direction of members of the public in the estate”.

Sgt Moloney said the Garda in question believed that it was a real gun and believed that the public was in danger. Mr Downes then went back into his home.

A search of the Downes home by gardaí later retrieved an air rifle which, according to Sgt Moloney, was designed to look like a bolt-action rifle.

Sgt Moloney handed in a photo of the air gun and Judge Murphy commented that the air gun was “very threatening to look at” and “very realistic”.

Judge Murphy stated in circumstances where the gun was allegedly pointed at members of the public, it was a serious matter and she was declining jurisdiction.

Mr Downes is charged with having in his possession without lawful excuse a realistic imitation firearm on April 11 last at St Michael's Place, Kilmihil.

Judge Murphy adjourned both cases to allow GardaÍ to prepare a book of evidence in each case and remanded Mr Downes on bail to June 15 to Kilrush District Court.

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