Man jailed for 12 months for trying to poison co-worker

Defendant learned of Thallium on crime documentary, court hears

A man has been jailed for a year after pleading guilty to attempting to poison a co-worker with a deadly substance which he ordered online after seeing it used in a crime documentary.  File photograph: Courts.ie

A man has been jailed for a year after pleading guilty to attempting to poison a co-worker with a deadly substance which he ordered online after seeing it used in a crime documentary. File photograph: Courts.ie

 

A man has been jailed for a year after pleading guilty to attempting to poison a co-worker with a deadly substance which he ordered online after seeing it used in a crime documentary.

Thomas Lynch (43), from Lisgoold East, Leamlara, Midleton, Co Cork, was accused of attempting to poison Owen Sheehan on May 23rd, 2018 at the offices of data firm Iron Mountain in Springhill, Carrigtwohill.

Det Garda Cormac Ryan told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Lynch had a row with Mr Sheehan over a pallet truck and when a mediation meeting at the company was cancelled, he attempted to poison Mr Sheehan.

He said Mr Sheehan contacted Midleton Garda station on May 24th, 2018 to say he believed that Lynch had put poison on his car.

Gardaí then started an investigation and spoke to a number of co-workers who said they heard Lynch say that he had smeared poison on the door handle of Mr Sheehan’s car and that if he touched it, he would be dead within 24 hours.

No poison was found when gardaí visited Lynch’s home but he directed them to Ballinaclasha Wood near Midleton, where he showed them where he had hidden a vial wrapped in plastic in a tree.

The vial was analysed by Dr John Shaughnessy of Forensic Science Ireland, who confirmed that it was the poison Thallium. He said that if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, it could prove fatal in six to 15 per cent of cases.

Lynch said he learned about Thallium while watching a documentary on unsolved crimes and ordered a consignment of the toxin from an Italian company over the internet at a cost of €70 to €80.

Remote area

Det Garda Ryan said Lynch, a native of Tralee, who lived alone in a remote rural area, had one previous conviction for drug dealing in 1999 but had not come to garda attention since.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Sheehan said he had worked alongside Lynch for much of his 14 years with Iron Mountain and had always been nice to and obliged the accused.

“When I realised the nature of the toxic substance that the accused had procured and that it could have caused death, it really shook me and it terrified me,” said Mr Sheehan.

He said that the incident had a huge impact on his life and led to him starting to comfort eat, which led to him putting on two stone in weight. He said he continues to go for counselling and is on anti-anxiety and sleeping medications.

“I have had weeks and months of nights where I have had nothing but extremely vivid and extremely bad dreams and nightmares. I believe my life will never be the same again,” he said.“I never thought Thomas Lynch would be capable of doing something as bad at this.”

No contact

Mr Sheehan said he was glad Lynch was pleading guilty and he hoped the court would ensure that Lynch would have no contact with him or his family in the future.

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain said that it was “a most unusual and frightening case” and he fully understood the anxiety Mr Sheehan felt as a result of Lynch’s actions. He said among the aggravating factors was the fact Lynch had deliberately ordered and imported the toxin and put it on Mr Sheehan’s car.

However, the judge said his guilty plea was a significant mitigating factor as it spared Mr Sheehan having to testify.

Judge O’Donnabhain said the maximum sentence available to him was three years and he imposed a two year sentence on Lynch but suspended the final 12 months on condition he remain under the supervision of the Probation Service for three years.