Deer hunter on cocaine shot at gardaí and civilians in Donegal town, court hears

Man pleads guilty to nine charges on night described as like ‘something from Wild West’

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case for final sentencing until next week. Photograph: Alan Betson

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case for final sentencing until next week. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A young deer hunter got high on cocaine and alcohol and roamed through a town shooting at gardaí, civilians and buildings, a court heard on Tuesday.

Stephen Dowling let off up to nine shots of ammunition from a high-powered telescopic rifle in Glenties, Co Donegal, in the early hours of February 22nd, 2020, Letterkenny Circuit Court heard.

He shot at gardaí, missing them by inches, shot through cars and also shot into the windows and walls of three different houses during an hour-long incident, the court was told.

The 25-year-old father of one appeared in court where he pleaded guilty to a range of charges on a night that was described in court as like “something from the Wild West”.

They include four charges of criminal damages and five charges of having possession of a weapon with intent to endanger life or cause damage to property.

The court heard how Dowling, of Burren Road, Carlow, was visiting Glenties with a cousin and uncle to shoot deer after seeing an advert by a farmer culling on his land.

Beer and whiskey

After a day of shooting, in which Dowling shot his first red deer, the men visited pubs and drank several pints of beer and whiskey. Dowling also admitted to taking half a gramme of cocaine. Dowling became increasingly agitated and had words with customers and barmen, the court heard.

The men returned to the B&B around midnight. However, Dowling changed back into his hunting clothing and recovered his high-powered Tikka T3X rifle from his car.

He then went on the rampage in the town letting off up to seven shots, the court heard. At one stage he got into a taxi waving his rifle but then got out and shot into the car’s back windscreen.

Gardaí were alerted. When armed officers arrived they took cover behind Garda cars. At one stage Dowling shot off two rounds, one hitting the patrol car, the court heard. The officers finally overpowered Dowling who was arrested.

Gardaí gave victim impact statements to court, describing the night as carnage and saying it was a miracle nobody was seriously injured.

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case for final sentencing until next week.