A father of three who spun “a fantastical story” to gardaí in relation to three guns discovered in his bedroom has been sentenced to four years with the last 18 months suspended.
Christopher Bergin (28) took full responsibility for both the guns and almost half a kilo of cannabis but claimed that he had been jogging in a local park when he overheard two teenagers discussing the fact they had rifles and a shotgun for sale.
He said he approached them and expressed his interest, returning to the park two hours later and leaving behind an envelope containing €1,000 to buy the haul. He said the cannabis was for his own use and he had bought it himself previously.
Bergin was at home in Tulip Court, Darndale, Dublin 17, with his father when officers raided the house and found two rifles and a shotgun along with €2,900 worth of cannabis resin.
He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the weapons and the cannabis for sale or supply at his home on February 7, 2013. He has 38 previous convictions mostly for road traffic offences but also one for possession of drugs.
Garda Ciaran Cummins agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that it was a totally ridiculous story and although gardaí put it to him that his story didn’t make sense, he stuck with this explanation through two subsequent interviews.
Counsel told Judge Mary Ellen Ring that “the reality of the story” was that Bergin had got into financial difficulty due to his own cannabis use and had been instructed to hold the guns.
He said his client had spun a “fantastical story” to the gardaí but asked the court to accept that he had taken full responsibility for the drugs and the guns when other people were living in the house with him at the time.
The drugs had been bought after he and his friends put money together to buy them. They would later split up the 483 grammes of cannabis between them, Mr Le Vert said.
He said although Bergin is no longer with his partner, the mother of his three children, she has written a letter to the court outlining that she has seen a change in him since he stopped abusing cannabis.
Judge Ring said the court could not overlook the fact that serious firearms were involved and the danger that these can cause to society.
She noted that young children lived in the Bergin family home at the time and said it was an aggravating factor that he had brought such items into the house.
The judge said it was only a matter of time before a case would come before the court where children find either drugs or guns and damage is caused.
“You had no regard for other people in the house in terms of the risk posed to them,” Judge Ring told Bergin.
She sentenced him to four years in prison and suspended the final 18 months on strict conditions.
Gda Cummins told Anne-Marie Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that a shotgun and two live shotgun cartridges where discovered in a green holdall underneath a chair in a bedroom Bergin shared with his brother.
Another black holdall found under the bed contained a rifle and a second rifle with a scope attached. The cannabis was found in the wardrobe.
The guns were later analysed and although they were not all considered to be in good condition, they functioned well and discharged the appropriate ammunition properly.