Company Sergeant who told corporal ‘I will kill you’ during row at social event fined €5,000

Non-commissioned officer’s conduct ‘unwarranted and unacceptable’, according to military judge

A senior non-commissioned army officer has been fined some €5,000 over his conduct during a social event in an army barracks, including telling a corporal: “I will kill you. I will get my gun and I will f***ing shoot you.”

The sentence imposed on Company Sgt (CS) Uel Fisher also includes forfeiture of one year’s seniority, meaning his August 2020 promotion to Company Sgt following the incident in 2017 at the non-commissioned officer’s mess in Finner Camp, Co Donegal, will date from August 2021.

The military judge, Col Michael Campion, said the financial penalties were “significant”, to be imposed via a €100 weekly pay deduction, but were warranted and proportionate in the circumstances.

Good order

The conduct of the CS was “unwarranted and unacceptable” and he was “very lucky” not to have been reduced in rank, he said.


CS Fisher, a 54-year-old father of three who has served in the Defence Forces for 37 years, had admitted three charges of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, contrary to section 168 of the Defence Act.

The charges included that, during the function on the night of November 14/15th 2017, he told Cpl Owen McLoughlin: “I will kill you. I will get my gun and I will f***ing shoot you.” He also pleaded guilty to throwing glasses and saying to Cpl McLoughlin: “I knew your father. He was a gentleman but you are a little prick.”

The military court had heard the offences were committed towards the end of what a witness described as a “mass brawl” during a pre-Christmas party in the barracks. One soldier suffered a bleeding mouth after being punched in the face by three other NCOs, while a picture of President Michael D Higgins — supreme commander of the Defence Forces — was smashed during events which left the mess looking “ransacked”, the court was told.

CS Fisher, attached to the 28th Infantry Battalion, originally pleaded not guilty to five offences including a threat to kill contrary to section 5 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. His trial was halted on its second day after he changed his plea and he was re-arraigned on the three section 168 charges, which he admitted. The Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) agreed to drop the charge of threatening to kill and another one of drunkenness.

In evidence, Cpl McLoughlin said the incident with CS Fisher arose after the latter had thrown two pint glasses which almost hit him in the head. When confronted, he claimed CS Fisher said he was just “lobbying them into the corner” and continued to throw glasses.

Cpl McLoughlin said CS Fisher had then made offensive remarks and alluded to his father, Cpl Dermot McLoughlin, who was killed by Israeli gunfire while on UN peacekeeping duties in Lebanon in 1987. The witness said CS Fisher ran towards him saying he was “going to f***ing kill me” after he challenged the NCO about how well he had known his father. While CS Fisher was being restrained by another soldier, Cpl McLoughlin said the accused threatened to go back to his house to get a gun.

Breach of standards

In his sentencing ruling at the military court at McKee Barracks on Tuesday, Col Campion said the admitted charges amounted to an “entirely unacceptable” breach of the standards of discipline expected and required of every member of the Defence Forces.

The aggravating factors included CS Fisher’s rank, his being a sergeant of long service in the Defence Forces in 2017 who knew the standards of conduct and discipline. His offences included articulating a threat to Cpl McLoughlin to kill him, such that another NCO felt he had to intervene and force the CS to the ground. As the CS was someone with considerable experience of firearms, the words used could well carry more weight.

Cpl McLoughlin had described CS Fisher as angry and said he took the threat as credible, the judge said. CS Fisher’s words to Cpl McLoughlin were “abusive” and the reference to his late father killed while on active service in Lebanon was “gratuitous and entirely unnecessary”.

This conduct was “unwarranted and unacceptable” but did not appear premeditated or deliberate and the context included it seemed to have occurred in drink and involved an emotional overreaction to some comment made, he outlined.

That was not to condone it in any way and did not mean Cpl Mcloughlin was not entitled to be concerned and to take CS Fisher’s words seriously, Col Campion stressed.

Severe reprimand

CS Fisher, he noted, had previously been convicted of one section 168 offence in 2008 for contravening standing orders for which he received a severe reprimand and was fined €250.

In mitigation, the judge took into account character references for CS Fisher from superior officers; his promotion to CS after the events of November 2017 and that his conduct was rated in late 2022 as “exemplary”. Other factors included he had approached Cpl Mc Loughlin to apologise, engaged in counselling, accepted responsibility for his behaviour and felt guilt and regret, including about the impact on his family.

The gap of some five years between the incident and the court martial had served no party well, the judge noted.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times