*Johnny Donovan (second from right) on his wedding day. 

A JUDGE has jailed a Co Clare man for 20 months for threatening to kill a Garda only days after the man was married last weekend.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Johnny Donovan’s new wife, Kathleen was in tears as prisoner officers led Mr Donovan (22) down to the holding cell after sentencing.

New bride, Kathleen followed them across the courtroom and said, “Don’t take him – that is my husband”. The newlyweds sat close to each other in the court for the sentencing hearing.

Judge Francis Comerford imposed the 20 month prison on Mr Donovan with a bail address of Shankill, Co Dublin but formerly of Clancy Park, Ennis, Co Clare after he pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Garda Jim McNamara at Ennistymon Garda Station.

In the incident on February 15th 2022, Sgt Caroline Lynch of Ennistymon Garda Staton said that Mr Donovan threatened Garda McNamara when he told him, “I won’t come for you, you fat ugly c**t. I will come for your family living up in your father’s old house in the middle of the night.

“See you how you can see my face with your cameras now. You won’t see me when I come for you family” and Sgt Lynch that Mr Donovan mimicked pulling a hood or balaclava over his head.

Sgt Lynch said that Mr Donovan also told Garda McNamara “you have made a big mistake crossing us” and they would make Garda McNamara and other Garda sorry.

Arising from Gardaí seizing Mr Donovan’s vehicle a number of days prior, Mr Donovan also told Garda McNamara “I will fucking get you. Some day when you are not working. I will fucking get you…You’re a big man in uniform. Don’t worry. I will get you some day”.

Before arriving at the station, Mr Donovan had told Garda McNamara over the phone that he was “a fat f**ker”. He told him, ‘You have made a mistake, you fucking cunt. I will get you, you fucking prick, this isn’t over’.

In his victim impact statement, Garda McNamara told the court that he is 59 and has been a Garda for 37 years and since the February 2022 incident “I have been frightened and wary when in public”.

He told the court that he has “been threatened many times. It is to a certain extent an occupational hazard, but now I’m older and my health is poor and I know if Johnny Donovan comes for me or my family, it will be in the middle of the night or when Johnny Donovan is backed by his mates”.

He added, “Bad as it is to be personally threatened, the fact that John Donovan threatened my brother and his family, to the extent of telling me his address and that would attack me in the middle of the night wearing a balaclava has had a profound effect on me”.

Garda McNamara said that “I am close to my family and the thought that my brother and his family could pay such a high price just to get back at me has changed my life for the worse. Both my brother and I have since installed CCTV at our homes”.

Garda McNamara said that “the stress and fear of this incident has me back smoking though I was off cigarettes for 14 years”.

He said, “I have regular nightmares that my family have been attacked in the middle of the night by balaclava wearing men with slash hooks and bats.

“Because I know Johnny Donovan and what he is capable of, my life has been changed. I am constantly exhausted from broken sleep, with occasional nightmares, my hobby of playing music has been severely curtailed because I find it very difficult to relax playing music in public for fear of Johnny Donovan and his mates singling me out”.

In imposing sentence, Judge Comerford said it is a significant aggravating offence in the case when it is a front line worker who is threatened.

Judge Comerford said that the offence was out of context with Mr Donovan’s previous 13 offences which are mainly theft and road traffic.

Judge Comerford said, “This was an outburst by an angry young man and wasn’t consistent with previous behaviour.”.

Judge Comerford said that Mr Donovan’s outburst was “an impulsive action and I am not going to treat it as a more calculated threat being uttered and sustained against a Garda”.

Judge Comerford said that Mr Donovan is in part time work and has made efforts to turn his life around.

Counsel for Mr Donovan, Patrick Whyms BL (Inst by solicitor, Tara Godfrey) said that Mr Donovan got married at the weekend and his new wife is pregnant.

In an interview with Gardaí, Mr Donovan said: “I am ashamed of my actions. I am sorry for the way I barged in. I am sorry for Jim”.

Mr Donovan also penned a letter of apology to Garda McNamara for the court.

He said, “I am a married man. I have turned my life for the best and I plan to have a bright future with my wife”.

Explaining his actions, Mr Donovan said, “I was on drugs at the time and in a bad place”.

Mr Donovan also stated that he is also a part-time boxing coach and his brother has turned professional.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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