Wednesday 13 December 2017

Court reserves judgement for Dublin man who had pipe bomb at petrol station

Brian Kavanagh

THE COURT of Criminal Appeal has reserved judgment in the case of a Dublin man appealing against his seven-and-a-half year sentence for possessing a pipe bomb at a petrol station in Co Waterford.

Samuel Devlin (53), of Mountjoy Square, had pleaded not guilty to the unlawful possession of an improvised explosive device at “TOP” garage, Butler's Town Roundabout, Cork Road, Waterford on October 15th 2010.

In July last year Devlin was convicted of the offence after the Special Criminal Court found it was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt he was in possession of the pipe bomb at the time of his arrest by gardai at the "TOP" garage.

The court heard that Devlin was a passenger in a silver Hyundai Atoz car which was observed driving to Waterford from Dublin and entering the May Park housing estate in Waterford city for a period of time.

When the car stopped at a “TOP” garage to refuel, Devlin got out of the car and opened the boot. Gardai then approached the car, conducted a search and uncovered a pipe bomb and a number of components in a rucksack in the boot.

Devlin was subsequently detained by gardai while the garage forecourt and a section of the Cork Road were sealed off to allow Army bomb disposal experts carry out a controlled explosion and make safe the device.

The State argued that evidence Devlin was “at something” in the boot of the Hyundai car when intercepted by gardai was sufficient to prove he was aware of the existence of the pipe bomb in the boot.

This morning at the CCA, Mr Gerry O’Brien SC, for Devlin, submitted the case “really revolved around” the issue of whether Devlin was in possession of the device found in the car.

Mr O’Brien submitted that under Irish law a person cannot properly be said to be in control of an item whose existence or presence of he has no knowledge.

He told the court that although the zip of the rucksack was open, the sleeves of the rucksack were closed and the device only became visible when gardai parted those sleeves.

Mr O’Brien said that there was no evidence of when the pipe bomb got in to the car, no evidence that Devlin brought anything to the car and no evidence of a forensic nature linking Devlin to the device.

He said there were other items in the boot of the car, including a child’s toy gun, and as this was not an empty boot Devlin should have been given the benefit of the doubt as to whether he “was at something” there.

Counsel for the prosecution, Mr Garnet Orange BL, said the direct evidence of a Detective Garda Alice Tierney made it clear that she was effectively “confronted” with the bag in which she could see the pipe bomb.

He asked the court to consider the “common sense” explanation as to “how on earth” Devlin ended up being at the boot with his hands “at something” in the car if the driver of the car was aware of the existence of the device but had wanted to keep it secret.

Mr Orange said the court was entitled to draw inferences of guilt from Devlin’s failure to offer a reasonable explanation for his movements and answer questions put to him in interview regarding his presence in the car and, later, at the boot.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Nial Fennelly said that the court would return judgement at a later date.

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