A BROTHER of murdered dissident republican Alan Ryan and another man have been found not guilty of the possession of an assault rifle and a handgun by direction of the Special Criminal Court.
The non-jury court ruled that there was an insufficient evidential basis upon which a jury, properly directed, could find Vincent Ryan (22) and his co-accused, Darragh Evans (23), guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Having been in custody since September 2012, both Mr Ryan and Mr Evans walked out the front door of the Criminal Courts of Justice.
Both men had pleaded not guilty to the possession of an AKM assault rifle and Webley-make revolver MkV1 at Clonshaugh Walk, Coolock, Dublin 17 on September 15, 2011.
The court heard that the garda investigation into the offence began after an incident involving the discharging of a firearm on Marsfield Avenue in Clongriffin on September 15, 2011.
Gardai who searched a Saab 95 car recovered a short distance away from Marsfield Avenue found a rifle, a rifle magazine, a Webley revolver and a Nike bag containing a foil lid from a Pringles crisp container.
The Special Criminal Court heard evidence from forensic scientist Dr Fiona Thornton that a DNA profile matching that of Darragh Evans was found on the rifle and on the Pringles lid, while a DNA profile matching that of Vincent Ryan was found on the magazine.
However, under cross-examination, Dr Thornton also agreed that the incomplete, low-level DNA profiles taken from the rifle and the ammunition magazine could have been deposited there by secondary or tertiary transfer as equally as by direct contact.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court found that the time and place of the alleged possession were vital to the charges and to the element of possession for an unlawful purpose in particular, as the evidence for this arose out of an allegation that the assault rifle and handgun were discharged on the date in question.
He said that "constructive possession" in this case would only arise where an accused was held to have been in physical possession of one firearm, but not the other, while the court found that possession of the magazine was not part of any specific charge.
The DNA evidence allowed for a number of different reasonable findings as to how it had got onto the items, including that they were handled by the accused or had got there by secondary, tertiary or even fourth-hand transfer.
He said the court found there were no "strands of evidence" in either case which could achieve the strength of evidence necessary for a conviction