Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Tom Tuite

A chef, who sparked a security alert in Dublin Airport by claiming he was armed and going to shoot someone, has been spared a jail sentence.

The bizarre gun hoax happened at Gate 106 in Terminal 1 on Sunday afternoon after Portuguese chef Adriano Rocha, 42, missed two flights home.

Dublin District Court heard Rocha was drunk and emotional when he made gun gestures and armed gardai responded after other passengers overheard his comment.

He was charged with giving false alarm contrary to section 43 Air Navigation and Transport Act, and pleaded guilty on Monday. The offence can result in a fine of about €1200 and a six-month sentence when dealt with at district court level.

He was granted bail and was ordered by Judge Treasa Kelly to come back to court today with €300.

Intention to leave

Judge Kelly noted it was the defendant’s intention to leave Ireland. The defence asked if the money brought to court cold be treated as a poor-box donation which can lead to no conviction being recorded.,

The judge refused because the case related to security: she convicted Rocha and fined him €300 which was paid immediately, and he was then free to go.

Rocha, with an address at Qudtiro Estradas Sitiro, Dos Alamos, Gui Albuffire, Portugal, had just finished up a stint working in the west of Ireland and was trying to get home, the court heard.

In evidence, Garda Paul Murphy said Rocha was waiting at the departure gate “when he became extremely erratic”.

“He was getting up and down on his seat, on two occasions he made gestures with his hands like a gun,” Garda Murphy said.

He was heard saying “I have a gun, I’m going to shoot someone” in the lounge at the departure gate.

The garda said although the accused did not shout it, “people in his vicinity became alarmed” and gardai were called.

No weapon

They rushed to the scene and confirmed he had no weapon.

Rocha’s reply to charge after caution was: “I didn’t threaten anyone”.

The chef, who had no prior criminal convictions, did not address the court. Garda Murphy agreed with defence solicitor Michael Kelleher that Rocha had been seen drinking alcohol and had twice missed flights home. He intended to go back to his mother in Portugal and then move on to the Netherlands.

He also had minor health difficulties and was “a bit tired and emotional”, the solicitor said. It had been a difficult period for him and he made it worse, Mr Kelleher added.  It was accepted he was bewildered and acted erratically.

The solicitor asked the court to note his client had spent 24 hours in custody. He submitted that the issue was mental health and the garda had accepted alcohol was not the primary cause.

Judge Kelly said it was very serious for the people beside him in the departure lounge.

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