A man who was arrested in possession of five knives outside a Garda station in Co Mayo has been given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty.
Matteusz Batiuk (26), of no fixed abode, was carrying the blades in a holdall when he was stopped by gardaí outside the Garda station on Lord Edward Street in Ballina, Co Mayo, on May 24th.
Ballina District Court heard he had purchased them earlier that day and painted the blades black.
The shop assistant who sold the knives noticed Batiuk, who the court heard has paranoid schizophrenia, was acting “peculiar” and reported her concerns to the Garda.
They used CCTV to identify and locate him before arresting him as he walked past the Garda station. One of the knives was protruding from the holdall at the time of his arrest.
Batiuk was charged under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, while a second charge relating to the theft of a powerwasher from a tool-hire business in Ballina was also taken into consideration by the court.
Judge Alan Mitchell heard that the Polish national is also facing charges in relation to a third incident that occurred three weeks before his arrest in Beleek Woods in Ballina.
Batiuk is alleged to have followed a woman into the woods before sitting beside her on a bench and stabbing a large kitchen knife into the armrest of the seat.
Judge Mitchell refused to accept jurisdiction in relation to this incident, deeming it sufficiently serious to warrant referral to the Circuit Court.
Gardaí described the fact that the knives had been painted black by Batiuk as “a sinister twist” in the case.
The court heard that he had seven previous convictions including assault, theft, and public-order offences. The solicitor for the accused said that he had lived in Ireland for up to eight years, having moved here with his mother.
He had paranoid schizophrenia and had been off his medication at the time of the incidents. He had purchased the knives because he believed people were “out to get him” and had painted them black in order to hide them, it was claimed.
In relation to the theft of a powerwasher worth €750 from a local tool-hire business, the court heard that he had paid a deposit of €10 to lease the machine and had then sold it to a third party for €20. His solicitor said that he had done this because he had no money and needed to eat.
He said Batiuk had since begun taking his medication again and was in “much better form”.
Batiuk pleaded guilty to both offences and received a four-month sentence, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to keep taking his medication and not to be in possession of knives in public places.