These images helped nail ‘Rocket-man’ protestor who threw firework at anti-lockdown march

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These images helped nail ‘Rocket-man’ protestor who threw firework at anti-lockdown march

The images show Jake Merriman armed with fireworks at an anti-lockdown demonstration in February 2021 — while stills from footage show the moment he fired it point blank at gardai, leaving one officer with a perforated eardrum.

Gardai
                        at the anti-lockdown demonstration in February
                        2021
Gardai at the anti-lockdown demonstration in February 2021
Merriman was clearly identifiable
Merriman was clearly identifiable
Jake
                        Merriman
Jake Merriman
Merriman can be seen throwing the firework
                        at gardai
Merriman can be seen throwing the firework at gardai
Gardai
                        at the anti-lockdown demonstration in February
                        2021
Gardai at the anti-lockdown demonstration in February 2021
Merriman was clearly identifiable
Merriman was clearly identifiable

Patrick O’ConnellSunday World

16th October 2022

These are the shocking images that aided in the successful prosecution this week of the thug dubbed ‘Rocket man.’

The images show Jake Merriman armed with fireworks at an anti-lockdown demonstration in February 2021 — while stills from footage show the moment he fired it point blank at gardai, leaving one officer with a perforated eardrum.

The firework Merriman fired at gardai was a ‘Hot Eight Cannon,’ described by sellers as containing ‘eight monster shots with four different effects and colours’ — with users advised to ‘stand well back’ after ignition.

Jake Merriman
Jake Merriman

In another video clip obtained by the Sunday World, Merriman, who was dressed in a clearly identifiable cream hoodie, can be heard screaming at gardai: “I’ll rock yiz to bits you fat b*****d.

“Tell your wife you love her … I’m going to smash your face in.”

The videos and images were gathered by online activists in the wake of the protest as they successfully sought to identify Merriman.

On Tuesday, the 31-year-old was jailed for 20 months after he pleaded guilty to endangerment on Grafton Street, Dublin on February 27, 2021.

Additional charges of assaulting two gardai were taken into account after the court heard that Merriman also punched a garda in the face and kicked another garda in the testicles.

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Man who threw firework that injured garda during anti-lockdown protest is jailed

Man who threw firework that injured garda during anti-lockdown protest is jailed

Merriman, of Meadowlands Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, later told gardai that he had no intention of causing trouble that day.

He said he had been drinking the night before and had decided to head into town for the protest.

“It was meant to be a bit of a laugh,” he said.

Merriman has minor previous convictions that were dealt with in the District Court.

Detective Sergeant Patrick Traynor accepted that a juvenile handed Merriman the firework, lit it and then Merriman threw it into the crowd.

It landed close to Garda Mark Walsh, perforating his right eardrum.

The garda has since fully recovered, but his hearing was affected for some time.

Merriman can be seen throwing
                    the firework at gardai
Merriman can be seen throwing the firework at gardai

Judge Martin Nolan said Merriman took a very active part in the demonstration and behaved in a very violent manner.

He noted from a victim impact statement, which was not read out in court, that Garda Walsh was in considerable pain and distress and lost his hearing for some time.

“He worried for some time that he would not be able to return to his role, but thankfully his hearing has recovered,” Judge Nolan said.

“He [Merriman] was violent, aggressive and hostile on the day. He aggravated the situation and caused considerable difficulties for the demonstrators and the gardai,” the judge continued, before he said Merriman deserved a custodial sentence.

Gardai at the anti-lockdown
                    demonstration in February 2021
Gardai at the anti-lockdown demonstration in February 2021

“He kicked, punched and discharged a weapon,” Judge Nolan said, while acknowledging that Merriman had not intended to cause the damage he did when he threw the firework.

He sentenced Merriman to three years in prison with the final 16 months suspended on strict conditions including that he hands over €5,000 for Garda Walsh, should he choose to accept it.

The court heard that Merriman, who runs his own power washing business, had €10,000 in court as a token of his remorse.

“Gardai have a difficult time, particularly on that day. He brought his fair share of hostility and anger,” Judge Nolan said.

Det Sgt Traynor told John Moher BL, prosecuting, that Merriman had been vocal and abusive and had been throwing glass and plastic bottles at gardai earlier that day before he punched and kicked the two gardai.

He later told gardai it had been his intention to cause a disturbance and make noise.

Det Sgt Traynor agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that his client told gardai in interview that it had been “a moment of madness” following a night of drinking.

He accepted that Merriman said he had been “foolish” to go in that day and he repeatedly called himself a fool when being questioned.

It was further accepted that Merriman had demonstrated sincere remorse and regret and had written a letter to the garda.

Mr Spencer said his client had received hate mail in the aftermath of the demonstration.

“He suffered the fall-out from it being shared in the media,” counsel said.

He said Merriman had been struggling with alcohol and being out of work at the time due to the pandemic.

“He knows he took the wrong choice and pledges to take the right choice in the future,” Mr Spencer submitted.

“It is an incident that caused him deep regret and remorse and he is trying to put things right,” he said.

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