Man who threatened to kill and said “Zionists” should have heads cut off has sentence reduced on appeal

Smael Heirouche

By Ruaidhrí Giblin

A Dutch national, jailed for threatening to kill his French flatmate while carrying a copy of the Koran and asserting that “Zionists” should have their heads cut off, has had his jail term cut on appeal.

Smael Heirouche (39), from Amsterdam but of Moroccan descent, had pleaded guilty to making threats to kill or cause serious harm to two French nationals at his flat on James Street, in Cork, on November 14th, 2016.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment at Cork Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Sean O Donnabhain on May 31st, 2017.

Heirouche successfully appealed against the severity of his sentence today and he was accordingly jailed for three years on condition he cooperate with advice and comply with all requirements of his medical advisers.

He is currently involuntarily detained at a Cork facility under the Mental Heath Act, the Court of Appeal heard.

Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Heirouche had been sharing an apartment with a number of French nationals on James Street in Cork.

On the day in question, Heirouche confronted and threatened to kill one of his flatmates while dressed in “Muslim style clothing” and carrying a copy of the Koran. As he was making the threat, Heirouche drew his hand across his throat which was taken to be very intimidating.

The court heard that Heirouche had been making reference to recent terrorist attacks in France and had called a number of people of “Zionists” while threatening to cut their heads off.

Mr Justice Mahon said Heirouche had previously threatened to place an explosive device on a bus in the Netherlands. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic in the Netherlands before coming to Ireland.

After the incident in Cork, a 2017 medical report deemed him fit to plead.

Mr Justice Mahon said this was a difficult case for any court. At the time of sentencing, Heirouche was not cooperating with efforts to treat him. However, he was now cooperating with and benefiting from treatment, the judge said.

Mr Justice Mahon said there was no error in the selection of five years as a headline sentence.

However, he said suspending a portion of the sentence, on strict conditions that Heirouche cooperate with advised medical treatment, was appropriate and within the public interest.

Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice Michael Peart and Mr Justice John Hedigan, quashed Heirouche’s original sentence and imposed a new five year term with the final two years suspended for three years.

Heirouche was required to enter into a bond to be of good behaviour and to cooperate with his medical treatment and comply with all requirements of his advisers for the suspended period.

He undertook to be so bound.



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