Suspended sentence for taking axe to US aircraft

The anti-war activist who took an axe to a US navy aircraft at Shannon Airport, causing $1

The anti-war activist who took an axe to a US navy aircraft at Shannon Airport, causing $1.5 million worth of damage, walked free from court yesterday.

Mary Kelly (51), with an address at Fort Lorenzo in Galway, was convicted by an Ennis jury last October of causing criminal damage without lawful excuse to the 737 US navy aircraft on January 29th, 2003.

The mother of four received a two-year suspended jail sentence at Limerick Circuit Court yesterday and a further 12-month suspended sentence for entering the airport illegally.

She was also ordered to stay a mile away from Shannon Airport and to be of good behaviour for four years.


Kelly, who hacked the plane almost 30 times, told gardaí she wanted to prevent the aircraft from going to Iraq "to kill innocent people".

Speaking after yesterday's suspended sentence was handed down, Kelly, who was staying at the Shannon Peace Camp at the time of the incident, said she was "delighted to have her freedom".

"I hoped for the best, but I prepared for the worst. I'm delighted to have my freedom," she said.

She went on to describe her trial as "unjust" as she was never allowed to mention the war in Iraq.

"I should never have had to set foot inside any court. My trial was unjust as I wasn't even allowed mention the war in Iraq. I shouldn't ever have had to waste my time being here and put my family and friends through this. No-one should be here," she added.

During the eight-day trial at Ennis Circuit Court last October the jury was told that the US navy plane in question was en route from Fort Worth in Texas to a military logistics base in Italy, carrying spare parts and tyres.

Before imposing sentence at Limerick Circuit Court yesterday, Judge Carroll Moran said he had a duty to to prevent this type of act being carried out again.

"Society at large expects me as a judge to stop and prevent the social anarchy that would prevail if people were allowed to take the law into their own hands," said Judge Moran.

The judge said that he had to take into account the fact that Kelly had no previous convictions, and was a person of good character.

Defence counsel for Kelly, Mr Patrick Gageby (SC), said his client was a person "of great human ability who contributed to worthwhile causes".

The court heard yesterday that Kelly was a qualified nurse, and had spent many years working in a homeless shelter in London and with an environmental scheme in Colombia.

She had also travelled to a Romanian orphanage in 1991.

A large group of supporters applauded inside Limerick Circuit Court yesterday after the suspended sentence was imposed.