Man jailed for eight years for attempted murder of ex-girlfriend

Judge says Gerard Mooney (39) came ‘within a hair’s breadth’ of killing woman but gun jammed

A man whose gun jammed when he tried to shoot his ex-girlfriend has been sentenced to eight years in prison for her attempted murder. Photograph:  Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

A man whose gun jammed when he tried to shoot his ex-girlfriend has been sentenced to eight years in prison for her attempted murder. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

 

A man whose gun jammed when he tried to shoot his ex-girlfriend has been sentenced to eight years in prison for her attempted murder.

Mr Justice Michael White said Gerard Mooney (39), of no fixed abode, had come “within a hair’s breadth” of facing the most serious charge in Irish law and that but for good fortune his victim would not have survived.

Mooney, a father of three who previously lived in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, pleaded guilty last year to the attempted murder of Stephanie Clifton (28) on February 12th, 2017 at Cartron, Co Roscommon. He also admitted to the possession of a shotgun, making a threat to kill or cause serious harm to Ms Clifton and criminal damage on the same occasion.

He further pleaded guilty to harassing Ms Clifton by persistently following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating with her between February 7th and 12th, 2017. The court heard that he made more than 250 calls to her phone between those dates.

He also pleaded guilty to committing burglary at the home of Stephen O’Donoghue in Cartron by entering as a trespasser and committing assault causing harm to Ms Clifton.

‘Turbulent’

Mr Justice White said the evidence showed that Mooney had been in a “turbulent” relationship with Ms Clifton and could not accept it when they broke up.

Psychological problems and abuse of drink and drugs were factors in his offending behaviour, the judge added. He said there were a number of aggravating factors including that he had been ordered by a court not to contact Ms Clifton when he tried to murder her.

The judge noted that relationships are often “the most dangerous place for victims” and said this was a “startling example” of the reality where love becomes distorted to something very different.

In mitigation, the judge noted that Mooney had mental health problems and issues with alcohol and drug abuse. He shows genuine remorse, the judge said, and while in custody has attended courses in anger management, alternatives to violence, peer mediation, conflict awareness and harm reduction. He has also achieved a certificate of basic literacy.

On the attempted murder charge the judge imposed a 12-year sentence but suspended the last four. He sentenced Mooney to five years for burglary, eight years for possession of a firearm, three years for criminal damage, five years for threatening to kill and two years for harassment.

All sentences will run concurrently and were backdated to February 15th, 2017 when he first went into custody.

The judge further ordered that for 15 years from his release, Mooney must not contact Ms Clifton directly or indirectly in any way. Mooney entered a bond and accepted the terms.