Man (22) jailed for six years after injuring Garda with imitation gun

Accused was tasered by Armed Support Unit after he ignored request to throw down his weapon

A file photograph of Thomas Mannah. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

A file photograph of Thomas Mannah. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

 

A 22-year-old man has been jailed for six years after he admitted firing shots from imitation guns and injuring a Garda before leading gardaí on a high speed chase.

The chase ended when gardaí used a stinger to stop the car and tasered the man after he continued firing at them.

Tommy Mannah from Mallow, Co Cork had previously pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving on the Old Youghal Road on July 3rd, 2020 and using an imitation firearm to resist arrest on the M8 at Ballynahina, Rathcormac on July 4th, 2020.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said on Monday that he had a suspicion as to what Mannah was trying to achieve on the night when he continued firing from the imitation firearm at gardaí during the pursuit, and it seemed he did not even realise how lucky he was to be still alive following the incident.

“This is a significant and serious case. For a prolonged period of time there were a number of separate incidents of brandishing and discharging an imitation firearm at his former girlfriend and the guards at different locations,” he said, imposing an eight-year term with two years suspended.

Det Sgt Kieran O’Sullivan told how Mannah had a row with his girlfriend in their rented flat at Mount Vernon View in Cork city at around 11pm on July 3rd, 2020 and Mannah started firing two imitation firearms he owned, a M4 assault rifle and a Hechler & Koch semi-automatic pistol.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said gardaí believed the handgun used by Mannah was real and a ballistics expert who examined it later said it would not have been possible to know it was capable of firing only pellets.

A number of Garda units responded to reports of shooting after Mannah went on to the street but gardaí could find no trace of him. Mannah had returned to his flat only to emerge armed with the handgun as Sgt Colin Greenway was speaking to two female witnesses, and Mannah began firing at him.

Sgt Greenway, who was in uniform, ushered the women to safety before Mannah confronted him and began firing at him from a distance of less than five metres, forcing Sgt Greenway to take cover behind a parked car as he repeatedly told Mannah to drop his gun.

Sgt Greenway realised on seeing the flash from the hand gun that it was not a real firearm and he emerged from behind the car and held out his arms to show he was unarmed, only for Mannah to tell him to “Get the f*ck back” and fire at him again, hitting him on the arm.

Mannah then jumped into his girlfriend’s VW Golf and took off in the direction of Military Hill and on to the Old Youghal Road and down Silversprings on to the Lower Glanmire Road, where he began firing out the window of the car at members of the Armed Support Unit (ASU) who were pursuing him.

He drove through Glanmire village still firing at the ASU and joined the M8 motorway, crashing through a barrier on the Toll Plaza and only coming to a stop when gardaí from the North Cork Divisional Traffic Unit in Fermoy deployed a stinger that punctured the tyres of his car.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said Mannah continued firing at armed members of the ASU after he exited his car, despite the ASU officers repeatedly calling him to drop his gun, which they believed was a real firearm, only for Mannah to get back into the car and continue firing. They returned fire.

Members of the ASU hit the car several times with shots before Mannah again exited the car and gardaí again ordered him to drop his weapon. While he dropped the gun, gardaí were fearful he might have another hidden behind his back so they tasered and subdued him.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said Mannah was born in Sierra Leone but came to live in Mallow at the age of three.

He had two previous convictions for public order offences and one for a driving offence, said Det Sgt O’Sullivan who accepted Mannah had mental health issues. Mannah was intoxicated on the night.

Defence counsel Siobhán Lankford SC accepted probation reports on Mannah were not encouraging and she pointed out he had spent time in foster care. . He had taken cannabis and whiskey on the night and was taking anti-psychotic medicine for mental health issues.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said it was of concern that Mannah seemed to have deteriorated between two Probation Service assessments. He showed no empathy with others and was instead full of self-pity and saw himself as a victim and denied that he had assumed a firing stance at gardaí.

“Gardaí properly believed the firearms were real, and risks to life and limb were there with the movements of the accused and the manner in which he stanced himself, discharging it on Military Hill and again at Watergrasshill,” said Judge Ó Donnabháin.

“It is quite alarming to think he was through the north side of Cork city with an imitation firearm pointing it out the window of the car and discharging it at gardaí. He continued with this aggressive stylised brandishing of the gun and no request by the gardaí had any effect on him.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin sentenced Mannah to eight years in jail with the final two years suspended for a period of three years under the direction of the Probation Service and he backdated the sentence to June 30th last when Mannah went into custody on the charges.