A Trinity College graduate and two men who are on trial charged with the possession of firearms and ammunition were wearing wigs and disguises when they were intercepted by armed gardai, the Special Criminal Court has heard.
Ursula Shannon (30), who is a Trinity College graduate and prominent member of socialist republican group Eirigi, and her co-accused John McGreal (37) and Colin Brady (24) have pleaded not guilty to the possession of two handguns and 32 rounds of ammunition at Tullybeg, Rahan, Co Offaly on November 27th, 2012.
They have each pleaded not guilty to the unlawful possession of one 9mm parabellum calibre Taurus PT92 semi-automatic pistol, one magazine suitable for use with the Taurus PT92 pistol, one 9mm parabellum calibre Walther P5 semi-automatic pistol and one ZGJY branded combined stun gun and flashlight.
They have also each pleaded not guilty to the possession of 25 rounds of 9mm ammunition and 7 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Diarmaid McGuinness SC this morning told the non-jury court that his client Colin Brady, of Ashgrove, Baskin Lane, Kinsealy, was not challenging any of the evidence in the trial by way of cross-examination or by way of submissions in the case.
Aileen Donnelly SC, for John McGreal, who has an address at Thornchase, Palmer Road, Rush, and Mr Patrick Gageby SC for Ursula Shannon, of Inglewood Crescent, Clonsilla, said they were in the same situation.
John Troy (33), a fourth co-accused of Dunard Avenue, Cabra, pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of one 9mm parabellum calibre Taurus PT92 semi-automatic pistol, one magazine suitable for use with the Taurus PT92 pistol, one 9mm parabellum calibre Walther P5 semi-automatic pistol and one ZGJY branded combined stun gun and flashlight.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler remanded Troy on continuing bail until February 18 for sentencing.
Opening the prosecution case, Shane Costelloe BL told the court that on the date in question gardai were in receipt of confidential information that a stolen vehicle would be used as part of an operation by dissident republicans for a theft at a property in Co Offaly.
He said that at 6:45pm a white Opel van with false number plates arrived outside a residential premises which also doubled as a business for a licensed firearm and sporting goods seller.
Mr Costelloe said that once the van arrived outside the house the order was given to surround the vehicle and the four occupants - John McGreal, Ursula Shannon, Colin Brady and John Troy - were arrested.
Counsel said that a search of the vehicle revealed the two handguns and the stungun along with the ammunition, cable ties, wigs and disguises.
Mr Costelloe told the court that all four persons had taken some steps to conceal their physical appearance, and were wearing layers of clothing to make them appear heavier than they actually were. Two of the occupants were also wearing wigs.
He told the court that a piece of paper setting out a list of jobs to be done when the occupants arrived at the scene was also found in the van.
Mr Costelloe said the court would be invited to infer that the people in the van were there to rob the shop and steal the firearms on the premises, an allegation which was put to the accused.
Counsel said the occupants were brought to various garda stations were nothing of material assistance arose, except for one interview each where Sections 18, 19 and 19A of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2007 were invoked.
The sections allow a judge or jury to draw inferences from an accused’s failure or refusal to account for an object, substance or mark, or any mark on such object, or failure to account for their presence at a particular place. The judge or jury may treat this as corroborative of other evidence against the accused.
Mr Costelloe told the court that certain evidential conclusions could be drawn from this.
Detective Garda Brian Maher told Mr Costelloe that he was one of a number of armed gardai who surrounded the white van, and he noticed Mr McGreal was wearing a wig and baseball cap, while a pair of glasses were lying on the ground close to his head. He said the accused man also appeared to be wearing multiple layers of clothing.
Detective Garda Niall Kavanagh, who also was present when detectives intercepted the van, told Mr Costelloe that he noted Ursula Shannon was wearing a black wig and also had several layers of clothing on.
The court heard evidence that Colin Brady was wearing a blue rain coat covering a white protective suit very similar to the type worn by gardai of the Technical Bureau.
The trial continues.