Thursday 22 February 2018

Homes evacuated as gardai searching for drugs recover pipe bomb under floor boards

Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) Dublin
Criminal Courts of Justice (CCJ) Dublin

By Sonya McLean

A man caused a number of his neighbours to be evacuated from their homes when the army bomb disposal unit were called in to remove a pipe bomb from his house, a court has heard.

Gardaí had arrived at Ross Whelan’s home in Ballymun, Dublin to search it for drugs when they discovered the device under floor boards in a room adjacent to his bedroom.

They also discovered just over €2,000 worth of heroin on a bedside locker.

Whelan (23) of Woodhazel Terrace pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of heroin for sale or supply and possession of an explosive substance on July 16, 2014.

He has 14 previous convictions which included theft, handling stolen property, possession of drugs, public order offences and an 18 months sentence for assault.

Judge Martin Nolan said it was a significant amount of heroin and the pipe bomb had caused a certain degree of concern.

He accepted that Whelan claimed he had the bomb for his own protection but commented that it was “an unusual mode of protection”.

Judge Nolan said Whelan had “some insights and some intelligence” before he jailed him for four years.

Garda Liam Mangan told Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting that the house was searched following at tip off at 8pm but gardaí had to force entry into Whelan’s bedroom as it had been locked from the inside.

He said the device was a pipe which had been packed with explosive powdered substances. It didn’t have a detonator but was confirmed as an explosive following forensic testing.

Whelan accepted that the 13.3 grammes of heroin was his and said that he had the pipe bomb for five years.

He claimed he hadn’t made it but had it for his own protection and had forgotten about it. Whelan said he had buried the bomb and had dug it up just two weeks before the search and hidden it under the floorboards.

Gda Mangan agreed with Mark Lynam BL defending, that there is a history of drug abuse in his client’s family and Whelan had spent almost three years in foster care.

He further agreed that Whelan accepted responsibility from the beginning and apologised to the gardaí, his neighbours and his family for the inconvenience he caused them.

Mr Lynam said it was a “sign of incredible immaturity” that Whelan had taken the device into the house.

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