Ballyfermot man jailed after threatening to blow a prisoner officer’s head off

by Gazette Reporter
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 By Jessica Magee

A Dublin man who threatened to blow a prison officer’s head off has been sentenced to a year and nine months in prison.

Anthony Dennis (39) of Lally Road, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to threatening to kill or cause serious harm to an officer at Cloverhill Prison on September 29, 2020 as part of what the judge called “a pattern of intimidation”.

The court heard that Dennis has 331 previous convictions, of which almost 200 are for road traffic offences, and has spent half of his life in custody.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last week, Judge Martin Nolan said there were several incidents involved in a “pattern of intimidation” intended to frighten the prison officer.

The judge said that after the first incident which resulted in an internal prison hearing, Dennis was still irate and making intimidating threats.

Garda Cormac Lavin told prosecuting counsel that the first threat took place when Dennis was smoking a cigarette on the prison landing, which is against the rules.

Dennis ignored two requests from a prison officer to go back to his cell to finish his cigarette and at the third request, he stubbed out his cigarette and said he was “finished anyway”.

The prison officer then overheard Dennis telling another prisoner: “it was the officer in the glasses, he does need to be sorted out.”

The officer took this as a threat to his safety and reported it to prison authorities, leading to a disciplinary process against Dennis.

Dennis pleaded guilty but after the internal prison hearing he called the prison officer a “tramp” and a “scumbag”, adding that he would be out of jail soon and would see the officer outside.

Three prison officers then put Dennis into a close supervision cell, after removing his clothes and giving him a poncho and two blankets as per procedure.

Dennis then again threatened the same prison officer, saying, “When I get out, I’m going to blow your head off.” He was asked to repeat himself and did so.

The prison officer felt this was a serious threat to his life and reported that he would be genuinely nervous if Dennis was released.

The court heard that Dennis has been in custody on remand since January 12 this year.

He has three previous convictions for assault causing harm, but none for threats to kill or cause serious harm.

Rebecca Smyth BL, defending, said Dennis went into custody at an early age and had spent half his life in custody.

Both of Dennis’ parents are dead and he developed drug addictions, including to tablets, from a young age, the court heard.

Counsel said Dennis has linked in with Fr Peter McVerry Trust while in custody and hopes to avail of residential treatment in the future.

“He has his problems, but they are mostly of his own making,” said Judge Nolan, backdating the sentence to January 12, when Dennis went into custody.

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