Two men are to be sentenced next year for threatening to kill a man after he failed to supply them with luxury Canada Goose jackets for which they had paid deposits.
Aaron Cunningham (20), of Cruise Park Drive, Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty to four counts of threatening to kill or cause harm and threatening to damage property on dates between February 1st and 7th, 2021.
His uncle John Cunningham (38), of Drumheath Avenue, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, admitted to five counts of threatening to kill or cause serious harm to the same man on dates between January 7th and February 1st, 2021.
A sentence hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday heard that the threats were issued in person and using voicemail recordings, text messages and Snapchat voice messages.
Garda Conor Newman told Emmet Nolan BL, prosecuting, that the injured party began buying clothes from a website in September 2019 in order to sell to people in his locality in Blanchardstown.
He would obtain stock by collecting deposits to buy the clothes, including high-value Canada Goose jackets, and promoted his business through Snapchat.
He arranged to meet Aaron Cunningham, who gave him €450 by way of deposit for three Canada Goose jackets, in November 2019. The jackets were duly delivered and about a year later Aaron Cunningham contacted the man again looking for more jackets.
Aaron Cunningham invited the injured party to his house in November 2020, where he met John Cunningham, who wanted to order a large amount of clothing as it was coming up to Christmas.
The court heard that the two Cunninghams between them handed over €4,300 in cash to the victim, who ordered further stock from his supplier. However, the clothes did not arrive and the injured party told the Cunninghams they had been delayed due to Covid-19 related issues.
Garda Newman said the exchanges were initially friendly but became more threatening and John Cunningham began to send angry voice mails and texts to the injured party. On January 7th, 2021, John Cunningham sent a message saying, “I’m going to go up to that gaff and burn it down. Get that money or your ma and da is paying for it, ya little black c**t.”
The two accused called to the injured party’s house initially looking for €7,000, but lowered this to €6,000. The victim’s uncle paid €1,700 to John Cunningham. On January 15th, both accused again called to the victim’s home and his mother paid them €200. The Cunninghams gave the injured party a further four weeks to pay the bill.
That night, John Cunningham sent a voicemail to the victim saying, “if you don’t have €2,000 for me tomorrow I’m going to shoot you in the head”.
‘Going to be smashed up’
On February 2nd, the injured party got a voice message via Snapchat from Aaron Cunningham saying that “if you don’t have that money by tomorrow I will smash your uncle’s face, and I’m coming down with people, and see that gaff, it’s going to be smashed up”.
The victim complained to gardaí who arrested both Cunninghams after tracing one of the phone numbers used to a number printed on the side of John Cunningham’s van. Aaron Cunningham made full admissions and told gardaí he had acted out of anger.
The mother of the injured party made a short victim impact statement which was read out in court on her behalf, saying she had not been at peace since the threats were made and she was scared of noises in her house and of her son going out.
Aaron Cunningham has no previous convictions, while John Cunningham has 19, mostly for minor offences including possession of drugs for sale or supply.
John Fitzgerald SC, defending Aaron Cunningham, said his client had sent a letter to the court apologising for his behaviour and expressing regret. He said his client’s childhood had been characterised by stress and anxiety after his father was murdered while in bed with him when he was aged three.
Fiona Murphy SC, defending John Cunningham, said her client was a hard-working married man with two children who accepts that his behaviour was appalling.
Judge Pauline Codd adjourned the matter for sentencing to March 3rd next.