Man admits firing shots at gardaí and leading officers on high-speed chase

Man had imitation firearm which gardaí believed to be real, court hears

The man pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and using an imitation firearm. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

The man pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and using an imitation firearm. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

A man (22) has been remanded in custody after he admitted firing shots from imitation guns, injuring a garda and leading gardaí on a high-speed chase which ended when officers used a stinger to stop his car and tasered him, after he fired shots at them.

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

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

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said that gardaí believed that the handgun which Mannah used during the entire incident was real, and a ballistics expert who examined it later said it would not have been possible for someone to know it was capable of firing only pellets.

A number of Garda units had responded to reports of shooting, after Mannah had gone out onto the street, however officers could not find him. Mannah had returned to his flat, and came back out with the handgun. As Sgt Colin Greenway was speaking to two female witnesses, 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 5 metres, forcing Sgt Greenway to take cover behind a parked car as he repeatedly told him to drop his gun.

A former detective, 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**k back” and fire at him again, hitting him in the arm.

Mannah then jumped into his girlfriend’s VW Golf and took off in the direction of Military Hill, 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 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 that Mannah continued firing at members of the ASU after he exited his car despite the officers repeatedly telling him to drop his gun which they believed was a real firearm. However Mannah got back into the car and continued firing so 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, which he then did. Gardaí were fearful he might have another hidden behind his back so they tasered him and subdued him.

Mannah, who was under the influence of intoxicants at the time, was arrested and taken to Fermoy Garda Station but was later taken to Cork University Hospital where he was treated for an injury to his jaw which he sustained when he crashed into the toll plaza barrier.

He was later arrested after doctors said he was fit to be interviewed and he was taken to Mayfield Garda Station for questioning where he made a number of admissions including owning and discharging both the imitation firearms.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan told the court that Mannah, who was born in Sierra Leone but came to Ireland at the age of three, had grown up in Mallow. He had moved out of the family home when he started becoming aggressive but he had moved back in in 2018.

Mannah had three previous convictions, two for public order and one for driving under the influence of drugs but since he had obtained High Court bail on these charges, he had been taking anti-psychotic medication and had not come to garda attention, he said.

Cross-examined by defence counsel Siobhan Lankford SC, Det Sgt O’Sullivan agreed that Mannah was under the influence of either drink or drugs on the night in question and he confirmed that Sgt Greenway had since made a good recovery from the injury he sustained on the night.

Ms Lankford said she believed that Mannah would benefit from a probation report and Judge Sean O Donnabhain said that while the events of the night were quite extraordinary, he agreed to the request for a probation report and remanded him in custody to appear again on September 20th.