'Someone with four firearms can’t afford to be careless' - No to renewal of farmer's firearm licence

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Court Reporter

A judge has refused to reinstate a firearms licence for a farmer whose licence had been revoked.

David Brownrigg (30) of Croneyhorn, Carnew in Co Wicklow, brought the appeal to Bray District Court.

The revocation happened some time after a collision in which gardaí found ammunition in the applicants car. Mr Brownrigg had reported the vehicle stolen and got it back shortly after the crash.

The licence had been revoked by Superintendent Gerard McGrath and involved four firearms.

A solicitor for Mr Brownrigg called firearms dealer John Lambert to the stand first. Mr Lambert told the court that he has an obligation to make it known to the authorities if he has any concerns about an applicant.

He said that he knows Mr Brownrigg and would vouch for his character as a suitable person to possess a licence. Mr Lambert said that while the storage of firearms is regulated by law, the storage of ammunition is not.

He said that there are around 200,000 firearms licensed in Ireland, with around 500 rounds on average per firearm. So around 100 million rounds of ammunition are currently licensed. Mr Lambert said that he has heard of firearms being stolen, but not ammunition.

He said that he and Mr Brownrigg would have hunted together. Mr Brownrigg told the court that he is a member of a gun club. He said that he used the firearms for vermin control on his farm and other farms, and also for clay pigeon shooting.

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The court heard that he has never come to the attention of gardaí before. On September 16, 2016, his jeep was stolen from the farmyard, Mr Brownrigg told the court. It was recovered by gardaí during the night and had been parked on private property.

There were rounds of ammunition in the vehicle at the time. Mr Brownrigg told the court that he has never breached the wildlife act by poaching, nor has he breached the firearms act, he said.

He said that he stored the firearms in a safe and that by a rule of thumb would keep ammunition stored seperately. He said that he has been inconvenienced by the revocation.

The notice of revocation was made in November 2017. Inspector Seamus Rothwell asked Mr Brownrigg if he had walked away from members, or failed to cooperate.

"I made statements and I answered all questions," he said. "I put it to you that it was your responsibility to keep the ammunition secure," said Inspector Rothwell.

"I wasn’t expecting someone to come and take my jeep and drive off with it," said Mr Brownrigg.

He said he wasn’t sure if the key was in the ignition. He said that the key went missing with the jeep.

Superintendent Gerard McGrath told the court that the landcruiser vehicle had been involved in a collision at Tinahely on September 16, involving three other vehicles.

He said that there were signs of hunting and lamping in the vehicle, such as animal blood and lamps.

"A vehicle was abandoned in the middle of the road with over 70 rounds of ammunition," said Superintendent McGrath.

"I would have concerns regarding Mr Brownrigg’s involvement.

"You wouldn’t have ammunition exposed in a vehicle. This vehicle was involved in a hit and run and the key left in the ignition, these go to the negligence," said Supt McGrath.

"I have reasonable grounds to suspect he may have committed a criminal offence," said Supt McGrath.

The court heard that no charges regarding that matter have been brought.

A solicitor said that was a very serious allegation and not stated in the letter of revocation. The court heard that there was also an empty gun case in the vehicle.

Supt McGrath said that while that is not against the law, there would be a potential that a person might break into the vehicle on foot of its presence. He said that the ammunition in question was strewn all over the vehicle.

Judge David Kennedy refused the appeal. He said that the case was indicative of carelessness. "Someone with four firearms can’t afford to be careless," said the judge.

Gorey Guardian

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