Man threatened to cut off priest’s fingers with knife

By Brion Hoban

A man with a religious persecution disorder who followed a parish priest into a sacristy with a knife and threatened to cut off his fingers has received a fully suspended sentence.

Mark Halligan (45), of Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to making a threat to kill or cause serious harm at a church in Balally, Dundrum, on September 11, 2016.

Criminal Courts of Justice 2 09032017

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Garda Ronan Kennedy told Eoghan Cole BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question the accused followed parish priest Fr Peter Byrne into the church’s sacristy.

Halligan began to talk about “various things”.

Garda Kennedy said Halligan had a large knife with him and told the priest he would “cut your fingers off”.

A parishioner had seen what was happening and contacted gardai who arrested the accused at the scene.

Halligan has 17 previous convictions, including convictions for theft, misuse of drugs, criminal damage, public order offences and road traffic offences. He has two children with an ex-partner.

Garda Kennedy agreed with Fiona Murphy SC, defending, that there were no injuries to the priest during the incident.

He agreed that her client had engaged with St John of Gods Hospital subsequent to the incident and there had been no problems since.

Ms Murphy said her client has been diagnosed with a religious persecution disorder, which is a strain of schizophrenia.

She said he had always worked in the past until the last two or three years when his mental health difficulties took over.

Judge Martin Nolan said he could accept that Halligan was delusional on the date in question. He noted that he had since obtained suitable treatment and there had been no recurrence in this type of behaviour.

Judge Nolan sentenced him to three years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in full on condition he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for three years and place himself under the supervision of the Probation Service for 18 months.

Prev Stole car at recycling facility and crushed owner’s ankle
Next Young people make a huge difference to family life
  • Walking miracle Karlee (8) thanks people for saving her life
  • Return of the flying ants!
  • Irish football supporters came out in force to remember Jack Charlton
  • Crowds gather to pay respect to former chairperson Brendan Moran
  • HSE launch Covid-19 Tracker App

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.