A wild salmon poacher threatened to stab a fisheries officer with a knife during a foot chase on Clare’s west coast nearly two years ago, a court has heard.
At Kilrush District Court sitting in Ennis, Judge Mary Larkin convicted John Linnane (43) of uttering a threat against Inland Fisheries Ireland officer Raymond Byrne, with the intention of Mr Byrne believing that it would be executed for killing him or causing him serious harm at Carrowdotia, Killimer on June 1, 2020 contrary to Section 5 of the Non-fatal Offenses Against the Person Act.
In evidence, Mr Byrne told the court that during the chase Mr Linnane of Griffin Rd, Kilrush told him that ‘he wouldn’t make time for it and he had a knife in that pocket and that he would take him out and stab him.” me with it.”
Mr Byrne said he then withdrew from the scene following Mr Linnane’s threat. He said, “I was surprised by what he said.”
During the previous chase along the coast, Mr Linnane and an accomplice played ‘a game of cat and mouse’ with Mr Byrne before entering deep water in an attempt to escape.
The Irish Coastguard were called by Mr Byrne after Mr Linnane and his accomplice entered deep water after scaling a cliff as they fled from fisheries officers at Poulinadaree in the Shannon Estuary.
Mr Byrne told the court: ‘I was worried it would turn into a bigger incident than it was.’
Mr Byrne told the court the pair tried to evade capture after they were spotted with a 60ft long net used to illegally catch salmon.
The two were spotted as part of an IFI surveillance operation aimed at combating the poaching of wild salmon.
Mr Linnane has previously pleaded guilty to a wild salmon poaching offense since the day last November he admitted in court to having a net under his control for the purpose of netting on June 1, 2020.
On the threat allegation against Mr Byrne, Judge Mary Larkin told the court: ‘I have no doubt in my mind that what was said was said. It’s a serious accusation – you can’t threaten someone like that”.
Mr Linnane has prior assault convictions from 2018 and Judge Larkin said: ‘You can’t threaten officers in the line of duty.
Judge Larkin said she had no intention of filling the jails and told him she intended to impose 100 hours of community service on the currently unemployed father of four , Mr. Linnan.
Justice Larkin said the fishery officers were “diligent” in carrying out their duties.
In an interview with Gardai in June 2020, Mr Linnane denied threatening Mr Byrne.
He said: “I did not threaten anyone with a knife. I wouldn’t do that. I don’t carry a knife.
In court, Mr Linnane repeated his denials saying he only told Mr Byrne to stop taking pictures of him.
Judge Larkin adjourned the case in April for sentencing.
Speaking after the sentencing of Mr Linnane, the River Basin district manager with Inland Fisheries Ireland for the Shannon, David McInerney said: ‘Threatening to kill or seriously injure a public servant is a very serious matter and Inland Fisheries Ireland would like to thank An Garda Síochána for their assistance in bringing this matter to court.
Mr McInerney said: “Fishery Officers are responsible for protecting valuable and often threatened fish stocks and this work is essential to ensuring the protection of Ireland’s native fish species.
“We must remember that the River Shannon is closed to salmon fishing because salmon stocks are significantly below levels that maintain a healthy and sustainable population.”