Ex-Israeli soldier and rugby international threatened to kill off-licence owner

Ex-Israeli soldier and rugby international threatened to kill off-licence owner

Olivia Kelleher

A former Israeli soldier, who previously played international rugby for his country, threatened to kill the owner of an off-licence in Cork City and burn him out of the premises.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Ronen Tollman, who previously told a District Court hearing of the case that he wanted to be a wellness coach, had pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Gary O’Donovan.

The offence occurred at O’Donovan’s off-licence on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork, on May 5th of this year.


He had stolen a bottle of wine from the premises on an occasion prior to the threats.


Tollman also pleaded guilty to threatening to harm a security guard in Cork’s English Market on dates in April of this year.

Garda Derry O'Brien told them court that Tollman started shouting and making threats to Mr O'Donovan on the morning of May 5th last as he attempted to open his premises.

Mr O'Donovan was with his teenage daughter when Tollman shouted: “You are the prick who has me in court. I am going to burn you out and kill you.”


Garda O'Brien said Mr Tollman also made threats to English Market security guard Declan Walsh on three dates in April of this year.

On one occasion he threatened to stab Walsh in the leg. He also asked a bystander to stab Walsh and said he would pay him €1,000. On a third instance he started shadow boxing as Walsh walked down the streets of Cork city centre to work.

Mental health

The case centred on the mental health difficulties of Tollman (30), who is said to suffer from PTSD following his time with the Israeli army.

When interviewed by gardai Tollman admitted making gestures to Mr Walsh, but denied making threats. However, he subsequently entered a guilty plea.


Mr Tollman is currently residing with his parents at Millstreet Road in Macroom, Co Cork. He has 27 previous convictions.

The court heard that Tollman was bipolar, and had experienced manic and psychotic attacks. The court was told that he suffers from a drinking problem, but is currently sober and on the straight and narrow.

Tollman previously told a District Court hearing of the case that he was frustrated about being barred from the off-license for stealing a bottle of wine, when he had returned the following day to pay for it.

Life back on track

He said of Gary O’Donovan: “I have nothing against that man whatsoever.”

Tollman added that he wanted to do something positive rather than negative for the community.

Judge Seán O'Donnabhain said that Gary O'Donovan, in his victim impact statement, had described Tollman as "an accident waiting to happen."

His defence barrister Brian Leahy said that Tollman (30) was doing his utmost to get his life back on track.

He was "quite a sportsman in his youth" prior to his mental health difficulties. He is engaging with the mental health services and is living back at home with his parents.

Judge O'Donnabhain said that when Tollman was stable he wasn't of danger to others. Giving Tollman the opportunity to further address his mental health problems, he adjourned the case until February 19th, 2021.