A St. John’s man who terrorized a woman and her family last summer by breaking into their house and threatening to kill them has been sent to federal prison.
Gary Thomas Hennessey was given a two-year jail term at provincial court Monday after pleading guilty to several charges.
The 29-year-old has been in custody for 163 days, but Judge Colin Flynn agreed to have the sentence begin Monday.
Hennessey pleaded guilty to 19 charges, including several counts of uttering threats, assaulting a peace officer, damaging property, break and enter, and breaches of court orders.
They stemmed from incidents that happened during a four-day period in July.
Between July 24 and July 28, Hennessey threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend several times through face-to-face confrontations, phone conversations and text messages. He also threatened the woman’s parents.
The woman reported the abuse July 24 and a warrant was issued for Hennessey.
On that day, she went to RNC headquarters reporting that Hennessey refused to let her leave her house after the two got into an argument. She said Hennessey told her if she called police, he would, “kill me, dump me and make sure I wouldn’t get off the floor.”
The next day, Hennessey showed up at the woman’s house and again threatened to kill her. He also threw rocks at her car, smashing windows and causing dents and scratches on the vehicle. He also threw a rock at the woman’s house, where she lived with her parents. It smashed a window.
The following day, he sent her several texts, telling her he would destroy her car and her parents. He also made reference to having a gun. He showed up at her house again that night and smashed the front window and the window on the front door.
Hennessey’s texts to the woman included comments such as, “I’m going to kill you today. I’m going to kill you, I swear.”
On July 28, Hennessey showed up again. The woman’s father, who was the only one home at the time, spotted Hennessey breaking a basement window and forcing his way into the house. The man called police and went downstairs to confront Hennessey, who was yelling he was going to kill the man, his wife and their daughter.
Police arrived minutes later and Hennessey was arrested.
But he didn’t go quietly. While being handcuffed, he spit on the officers and shouted he was going to kill them when he got out of prison.
At RNC headquarters, Hennessey refused to speak to investigators. During questioning, Hennessey continued to shout, “I can’t hear you! F--k you!”
He was then taken to the St. John’s lockup, where correctional officers subsequently saw him in his cell trying to set something on fire. He had smuggled in a lighter in his rectum. When officers attempted to take the lighter, Hennessey fought, spitting and punching until he was subdued.
There was a video of the incident, but it was not played in court.
“These series of events, culminating with the (home invasion), are pretty scary stuff,” Judge Colin Flynn said. “It’s very concerning.”
In handing down the federal sentence, Flynn went along with a recommendation agreed upon by Crown prosecutor Jeff Summers and defence lawyer Scott Hurley.
Summers pointed to Hennessey’s lengthy criminal record, which included convictions for assault, assault with a weapon, assaulting police, being unlawfully in a house, uttering threats and dozens of counts of breaching court orders.
“Court orders are essentially meaningless to Mr. Hennessey,” Summers said.
Hurley said Hennessey’s criminal “binge” in July was due to his addiction to OxyContin.
“He was out of control,” Hurley said. “He was not in his full state of mind.”
But he insists Hennessey wants to change his life.
“If he gets past the drugs, it’s not likely you’ll see him back here,” Hurley said.
Hurley said his client, who has two daughters, wants to apologize to the woman’s family, the police and guards at the lockup.
When the judge asked him if he wanted to say anything, Hennessey declined.