A man who damaged an M50 toll gantry with an angle-grinder and then threatened gardaí at the scene with the same implement has been jailed for six months.

50-year-old Tony Rochford, of Steeple Manor, Trim, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and possession of an angle-grinder at an M50 eFlow toll gantry on 30 May this year.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Judge Melanie Greally sentenced him to two and a half years in prison, but suspended the final two years.

The judge set a headline sentence of four years but reduced it because of the large number of testimonials handed into court in Rochford's favour, the good works he has carried out in his life, and the stress he was under at the time of the offence.

It was the second time that Rochford had damaged an M50 toll gantry, although the first offence caused significantly more devastation, the court heard.

On 16 June 2017, Rochford caused over €500,000 in damage and loss of earnings to the eFlow toll collection system when he climbed up on an M50 gantry, snipped wires and smashed sensors.

The court heard previously that the toll collection system was out of action for 26 hours and the northbound lanes of motorway were closed for three hours because of the damage.

Rochford had posted videos to Facebook and Twitter outlining reasons for his actions, which included a bid for media attention to raise awareness about a fatal fire at a flats complex.

Rochford pleaded guilty to the first offence and the day before his scheduled sentence, he committed his second act of criminal damage at the M50.

He is currently serving a two and a half year sentence for the earlier offence.

Judge Greally ordered that Rochford's sentence be consecutive to the previous sentence.