Saturday 3 December 2016

Two men caught with loaded handguns and can of petrol with 'an intent to endanger life' to be sentenced

Fiona Ferguson

Published 10/03/2016 | 18:02

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Two men caught with loaded handguns and a can of petrol with “an intent to endanger life” following a large scale garda operation will be sentenced next week.

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Anthony Callaghan (45) and Paul Zambra (39) face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the offence. A mandatory minimum sentence of ten years applies to Callaghan as he has a previous conviction for a firearms offence. The court may deviate from the ten years in the case of Zambra.

Callaghan, of Millrace Road, Phoenix Park Racecourse, Dublin and Zambra, of Inagh Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin both pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of a Ruger Revolver and semi automatic pistol with intent to endanger life at Clonshaugh Avenue, Coolock on May 29, 2015.

Zambra also pleaded guilty to driving without insurance on the same occasion.

The men were stopped by gardaí who mounted a surveillance operation in the Coolock area and a search of the BMW driven by Zambra yielded two firearms and a full petrol can.

Callaghan's previous convictions include attempted robbery and possession of a firearm. Zambra has convictions for robbery, larceny and road traffic offences.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned sentencing until Wednesday next week.

Detective Garda Glen Somers told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that gardaí acting on confidential information mounted a surveillance operation over several days on the movements and activities surrounding a number of vehicles driven variously by Callaghan and Zambra.

On May 29, 2015 gardaí became aware that a white Nissan van driven by Callaghan with Zambra as a front seat passenger was on its way to Coolock. Zambra was dropped off at Clonshaugh Crescent where a blue BMW estate was parked.

Zambra got into the BMW and drove onto Clonshaugh Avenue, in a direction which was in close proximity to the Riverside Estate. Callaghan drove off onto Clonshaugh Road.

Gardaí made tactical stops of both vehicles at about 12.15pm and arrested the men.

Zambra had attempted to drive off after being directed to get out of the car but was boxed in by a squad car. Inside the BMW gardaí recovered a full 5 litre petrol container, a semi automatic pistol wrapped in newspapers and a revolver wrapped inside a neck warmer.

The semi automatic pistol had a silencer attached and it's safety catch was off. The Ruger Revolver was loaded with five rounds and had its serial numbers drilled off.

Both men exercised their right to silence during garda questioning. Gardaí recovered CCTV from Topaz in Mulhuddart and identified Zambra as the person purchasing the petrol. Both vehicles seized were registered under false names and addresses.

Gda Somers agreed with Sean Guerin SC, defending Callaghan, that when his client was stopped he was driving away from the Riverside area. He agreed that there were no other outstanding matters in which Callaghan was a suspect.

Mr Guerin submitted there was case law outlining a clear distinction between an intent to endanger life and intent to kill. He asked the court to also take into account his clients early guilty plea.

He said that whatever had been afoot, Callaghan had been driving away from “the scene” when he was stopped by gardaí and there was no evidence of evasive manoeuvres.

Michael O'Higgins SC, defending Zambra, said his client was a father of one who was separated from his partner. He had a “fairly serious” drug problem since he was 16-years old but there was no suggestion his involvement in this offence was due to his drug history.

He submitted that while the court might infer from the sightings of the vehicles in the area that there was an intent to endanger life in the environs this was different from an intent to seriously injure or kill.

Mr O'Higgins said Zambra has applied himself well while in custody and asked the court to take into account his prompt guilty plea.

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