Convicted garda murderer faces criminal damage charge

Pat McCann charged with throwing a keg at Grafton Street jewellery shop window

A 70-year-old convicted garda murderer, who was originally sentenced to death before spending over 30 years in prison, has faced court on a criminal damage charge.

Pat McCann, of no fixed abode, appeared before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday charged with throwing a keg against a Grafton Street jewellery shop window, causing over €8,300 in damage.

He pleaded guilty to criminal damage at John Brereton Jewellers on July 23rd, 2015.

McCann was sentenced to death by hanging in 1980 for the capital murder of Garda Henry Byrne, who was shot dead in the aftermath of an armed robbery near Loughglynn, Co Roscommon, on July 7th, 1980. Det Garda John Morley was also murdered during the incident. Another man, Colm O'Shea, was also sentenced to death.


McCann's death sentence was commuted to a 40-year term of imprisonment by then president Patrick Hillery. He was released in 2013 following a Supreme Court judgment on remission, which allowed the prison authorities to find that he had served the required 30-year jail term.

Life in custody

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the matter until April 7th to allow for a probation report, noting: "I'm clearly not dealing with an average case."

“Mr McCann has spent, if not the majority of his adult life, then a very large portion of his adult life in custody,” the judge said. “Following his release he has engaged in criminal conduct on a reasonably consistent basis.”

Garda Maria O’Hara told Maddie Grant, prosecuting, that McCann has 12 previous convictions, including arson, burglary, theft and possession of knives. He was drunk at the time of the offence.

Garda O’Hara said while considerable damage was caused to the window, it did not break entirely and no jewellery was taken or damaged.

Defence barrister Diarmaid McGuinness SC said McCann had a long history of mental health problems. He said McCann was remorseful and willing to repay the damage incurred by the jewellery store owner with his pension money.

The court heard McCann, who has been in custody since December, was hopeful of securing accommodation upon his release, and may live with his adult son or daughter.