Farmer who shot pal after whiskey bender walks free from court
The east Co Clare farmer who blasted his best friend with a double-barreled shotgun after drinking two pints of whiskey has walked free from court.
Judge Gerald Keys imposed a four-year suspended jail term on father-of-two Liam Flynn (53) for the assault causing harm of his "great pal" Noel Enright (41) on Flynn's remote farmhouse at Afflick, Tulla, on January 28, 2015.
Judge Keys told Flynn at Ennis Circuit Court that he should consider himself "very, very lucky".
The judge made it a condition of the sentence that Flynn pay more than €20,000 compensation. Flynn has also agreed not to abuse alcohol or drugs for the next four years.
Counsel for Flynn, Lorcan Connolly, told the court that Mr Enright has initiated civil proceedings against his client.
Judge Keys told Flynn that, by his act, "you have caused serious damage to Mr Enright, which has and will continue to have a profound effect on him for the future".
The two were church-going friends for 20 years before Flynn blasted the Doora man in his left upper thigh at his home after a long night of drinking.
Mr Enright would stay at Flynn's home once a week, when they would drink and watch their favourite TV show, Sons Of Anarchy, which is about a gang of outlaw US bikers. "The goings on that night could have been taken out of Sons Of Anarchy," said Mr Connolly.
Mr Enright was rushed to hospital in Limerick, where he underwent a number of operations on the wound, and more than 100 pellets were found.
Mr Connolly said that, while his friend recovered in hospital, Flynn gave him a holy statue, prayer book and holy water.
In his judgement, Judge Keys said the two men had offered "polar opposite" accounts of what had taken place that night.
In his statement to gardai, Mr Enright said: "I remember Liam saying to me, 'Do you know that girl, Taci, you are seeing? She is a spy'.
"At that I started roaring laughing and Liam jumped up and pulled out his gun, put his gun to shoulder level and said 'you are a f**king tout for the gardai' and, bang, he shot me."
However, Flynn told gardai at the scene, "he is my best friend for years and it [the gun] just went off".
"I tapped him on the knee with the barrel. It just went off - it was a pure accident. I am a good man. I did nothing wrong. I am just under pressure," he said.
Judge Keys said Flynn had pleaded guilty to the charge, expressed remorse for his actions, has given €20,000 into court, has no previous convictions, and is considered unlikely to re-offend.
He added that the incident had ended the pair's friendship.
Mr Connolly said Flynn had drank two pints of whiskey and half a bottle of a liqueur, while Mr Enright had drank a lot of red wine on the night, along with smoking cannabis.
Judge Keys said it should be clear from this case that mixing drugs and alcohol does not go well at all, and what occurred stemmed from over-indulgence.
The court was told Flynn is "a good dad" to his two children with two different women, from whom he is estranged.
Flynn left court accompanied by the two mothers and declined to comment.