independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Father of three who said he was fixing child’s gun jailed for firearms possession

A FATHER-OF-THREE who told gardai that components from a firearm scattered around his home belonged to a toy gun he was trying to fix has been jailed for seven years at the Special Criminal Court. c

Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said that the non-jury court regarded the possession of firearms as a “most serious offence” and had to impose a minimum sentence on Declan Geraghty (31), as he had a previous conviction for possession of a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition in 2004.

He said the fact that Geraghty had attempted to scatter the gun components and told gardai they were parts of a child’s gun showed he “clearly had guilty knowledge about the matter”.

Mr Justice Butler said the court considered the appropriate sentence to be one of seven years but there was “no question” of suspending any part of the term as the court had no evidence as to the accused man’s future conduct.

He said the court had said “time and again” it would suspend portions of a sentence on a credible promise but not on a “mere hope” which, along with the knowledge of Geraghty’s previous conviction, was all it was offered in this case.

Geraghty, of Bawnlea Crescent, Tallaght, had pleaded guilty to the possession of a 9mm FEG model P9 pistol at his home on September 26th, 2012. 

He was arrested as part of a garda investigation in to the activities of dissident republicans and was also charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on the same date.

Counsel for the prosecution, Ms Tara Burns BL, told the Special Criminal Court that the State wished to enter a “Nolle Prosequi”, in other words not proceed with this charge.

Detective Sergeant Liam Archbold told Ms Burns that gardai who raided Geraghty’s home discovered part of a gun handle in a vase on the hearth in the sitting room, the opposite part of the handle on the floor, a handgun magazine under the couch and a slide release mechanism and gun trigger on the couch.

He said that officers also found a black ballistic vest hanging from the sitting room door, a pair of black gloves on the sitting room floor and numerous screws.

Immediately before the search, gardai who were at the rear of the house observed Geraghty throw what later transpired to be the frame of a gun slide in to his neighbour’s garden.

Det Sgt Archbold said that the components were examined by a ballistics expert who concluded that they together made up an incomplete FEG model P9 pistol, which was missing a trigger pin, trigger lever and one rip plate screw.

He said the ballistics expert concluded the pistol was in poor condition and had its serial number deliberately erased.

Det Sgt Archbold agreed that the ballistics officer successfully discharged the weapon after the missing components were installed and ammunition loaded.

He agreed that in his last interview at Ashbourne Garda Station Geraghty told gardai that the component parts were parts of a child’s gun he was trying to fix and that there were other parts of toy guns around the house.

Det Archbold agreed with Ms Burns it was the belief of gardai that Geraghty had possession of the firearm as a member of the IRA.

He agreed with counsel for the accused man, Mr Bernard Condon SC, that Geraghty had three boys, one of whom had special needs.

Mr Condon asked the court to take in to account Geraghty’s plea of guilty and consider the issue of proportionality when imposing sentence, as what was found were essentially component parts, and did not constitute a useable weapon even if they had been put together because of the absent material.

Asked by Mr Justice Butler if he could tell the court anything about Geraghty’s future, Mr Condon replied: “I’m afraid not.”

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