Man fired shot when he tripped over dog after threatening to kill couple, court hears

Accomplice crashed into pole near Cork GAA match after high-speed chase, court told

Two men have been jailed for their parts in a bizarre incident where a shot was discharged when a gunman tripped over a dog which led to a high-speed pursuit through Cork.

The chase ended when the gunman and his accomplice crashed into a pole in the middle of crowd going to a GAA match, a court has heard.

Cian Walsh (29) from Mercer Park, Turners Cross, Cork, was sentenced to six years in jail with two years suspended for three counts of threatening to kill and two counts of unlawful possession of a sawn-off Kestrel shotgun at Noonan Road and St Joseph's Cemetery, Cork on September 25th, 2016.

His co-accused, Stephen Coveney (25) of Ascension Heights, Churchfield, Cork was sentenced to four years in jail with two years suspended for two counts of reckless endangerment at Connolly Road, Ballyphehane and Boreenamanna Road, and two counts of criminal damage on the same day.


Motivated by revenge

Det Garda Aoife Hayes told Cork Circuit Criminal Court how Walsh was motivated by revenge when he called to the home of Janice McGrainor at Noonan Road following a dispute the previous night with her partner, and he arrived at her house with a loaded sawn-off shotgun.

Ms McGrainor told the court in a victim impact statement how she heard her dog, Rocky, growling and saw Walsh (whose nickname was Chops) coming up the steps to her house with a sawn-off shotgun tucked under his coat.

“He then pointed the gun under my chin which scared me so much. He threatened to kill me. In those minutes, I really felt m life could be gone with one wrong move. I stood frozen to the spot and it really felt like time stood still,” she said.

“Rocky the dog ran down the steps. He ran under his legs and kind of tripped him. Chops fell down two steps. I heard a bang and knew the gun was discharged. When the gun went off, Chops kind of jumped. I saw him kind of stumbling up the lane. He was clearly out of it.”

Red light

Walsh fled in a Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Coveney, which crashed through a red light at the junction of Connolly Road and Pearse Road in Ballyphehane at 110km/h before they stopped to stash the loaded sawn-off shotgun at St Joseph's cemetery on Tory Top Road.

Coveney then drove on at speed through Turners Cross, the South Douglas Road and the Well Road in Douglas before turning up on to the Boreenamanna Road to come around by Páirc Uí Rinn where a crowd of 11,000 was attending the Cork County Championship hurling semi-finals.

He rammed one unmarked patrol car and then reversed into a marked patrol car before trying to force his way through the crowd, damaging two parked cars before eventually coming to a halt when he crashed into an ESB pole, said Det Garda Hayes.

Det Garda Hayes said that gardaí were very fortunate that they found the sawn-off shotgun in the graveyard as it was loaded and could easily have caused serious injury or death if it had been found by a member of the public including children who frequent the area.


Similarly, it was extremely fortunate that no one was injured by Coveney’s driving as there were a large number of pedestrians in the Páirc Uí Rinn area when he came on to Boreenamanna Road, and as it was he caused over €5,000 worth of damage to the two non-garda cars he hit.

The court heard that Walsh had 183 previous convictions – mainly for drugs and road traffic offences – and that the prosecution accepted that he was under the influence of intoxicants when he threatened Ms McGrainor.

Judge Gerard O’Brien said that an aggravating factor in Walsh’s case was that it was clearly premeditated and the use of a sawn-off shotgun was “an extremely frightening and awful experience” for Ms McGrainor as he sentenced him to six years with two years suspended.

Turning to Coveney, whom he heard had 35 previous convictions, Judge O’Brien said such reckless behaviour where he had endangered so many people would not be tolerated and he sentenced him to four years in jail with two suspended and he banned him from driving for two years.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times