A senior noncommissioned officer (NCO) in the Defence Forces has pleaded not guilty to a charge of threatening to kill another soldier at a military camp in Co Donegal.
Company Sgt Uel Fisher appeared before a sitting of a court martial in McKee Barracks in Dublin on Tuesday to face a series of charges arising out of an incident at a social function in Finner Camp, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal five years ago.
Sgt Fisher denied threatening to kill Corporal Owen McLoughlin at a time unknown between November 14th and November 15th, 2017 in the NCOs mess at Finner Camp, contrary to Section 5 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997.
The court martial heard that the accused — a married father of three who has been a member of the Defence Forces for 37 years — allegedly stated to Cpl McLoughlin: “I will kill you. I will get my gun and I will f**king shoot you”.
Sgt Fisher also pleaded not guilty to an alternate charge in relation to the same incident of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, contrary to Section 168 of the Defence Act 1954.
The NCO, who is attached to the 28th Infantry Battalion based at Finner Camp, also denied a separate Section 168 charge of stating to Corp McLoughlin on the same occasion: “I knew your father. He was a gentleman but you are a little pr*ck.”
During a short hearing, Sgt Fisher also pleaded not guilty to a charge of drunkenness contrary to Section 142 of the Defence Act 1954.
The court heard he was accused of throwing pint glasses in the mess during the same incident.
Sgt Fisher also pleaded not guilty to an alternate Section 168 charge in relation to the throwing of glasses.
The military judge, Col Michael Campion, directed that the accused should go on trial as a result of his pleas to the five charges.
Solicitor for the Director of Military Prosecutions, Lieut Col Shane Keogh, said it was anticipated the trial could last a week as there were up to 11 witnesses for the prosecution who would give evidence.
Counsel for Sgt Fisher, Gerard Humphreys SC, said progress had been made on the disclosure of documents between the parties although the defence legal team were still awaiting some records from An Garda Síochána.
At a previous sitting of the case in July, Mr Humphreys expressed concern that a decision had been taken by the military authorities to prosecute his client four years after the DPP had decided that there should be no prosecution following a Garda investigation of the incident.
It was also revealed to the court martial that political representations about the case had been made to the Minister for Defence.
On the same occasion, the judge heard that there were inconsistencies in statements provided by witnesses to gardaí and military police.
At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Col Campion adjourned the matter and fixed a date for the start of the trial on November 22nd, which he directed should take place at Finner Camp.