Thursday 14 December 2017

Man acquitted by trial judge for possession of firearm and ammunition

Sonya McLean

A convicted armed robber has been acquitted by direction of the trial judge of possession of a firearm and ammunition after it was ruled there was insufficient evidence against him.

Gerard Gray (28) of Bracken Wood Drive, Balbriggan, previously of Edenmore Park, Raheny, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession or control of a revolver and ammunition in Edenmore Park, on April 17, 2010.

The trial, which lasted eight days, consisted mainly of legal argument in the absence of the jury. Judge Desmond Hogan then ruled that there was not enough evidence to support the charge that Gray had possession of the gun and ammunition.

He told the jury that he would have had to ask them to base their verdict on “conjecture or suspicion” if the case proceeded.

He discharged them and told the foreman to mark the issue paper “not guilty by direction of the trial judge”.

Gray’s co-accused, Christopher Heffernan (38) of Belcamp Grove, Coolock, pleaded guilty to the same charges when the trial was listed before Judge Patricia Ryan last week .

He is due for sentence next November before Judge Hogan.

Ten years ago Gray was jailed for four years by Judge Yvonne Murphy for a spate of armed robberies committed when he was 16-years-old.

He had pleaded guilty to the robberies carried out between April and June 2002 and also admitted a further count of robbery and a threatening to kill a security guard at the Northside Shopping Centre on May 17, 2001.

Michael Delaney SC, prosecuting told the jury on the opening day of the trial last week that the State’s case against Gray was based largely on circumstantial evidence.

He said on April 17 gardai were searching the Edenmore Park housing estate when at 8.30 pm they discovered a loaded revolver hidden underneath a black refuse bag of grass cuttings in a park area.

The gun was wrapped in four black socks and contained six live rounds of ammunition. Another six rounds were found in one of the socks.

Mr Delaney said gardai had earlier spotted Gray and another man standing next to a red Ford Ka on Edenmore Crescent, approximately 200 meters from where the revolver was found.

The men were standing outside of the car and appeared to be looking into the open door.

Mr Delaney said when gardai asked Gray what was he was doing he told them the car belonged to his brother and he had lost the key.

A second vehicle, a silver Audi which had been reported stolen three days earlier, was discovered not far from where the revolved was found.

A key for an Audi was later found about 25 meters from where the gun was discovered.

Mr Delaney said the general area had been sealed off and preserved overnight to maintain the integrity of that scene and later that evening a garda came across a key to a Ford Ka on a grassy bank within the park, roughly about 50 meters from where the revolver was found.

Counsel told the jury the prosecution say that the gun had been placed there by Gray and the other man with him and they were about to retrieve it when the gardai stopped them

The trial later heard from Sergeant Brendan Burke that Gray was arrested when he was standing at the Ford Ka. He was wearing two sets of clothing with a bullet proof vest in between them.

Sgt Burke said Gray smashed two mobile phones, taken from his pocket, just before he was arrested.

Judge Murphy heard at the sentence hearing in March 2002 that Gray had been taking drugs since his early teens when he lived on the streets.

The court heard that Gray and an accomplice held a shotgun to the head of an 80-year-old woman in one robbery and ordered everyone in a supermarket to lie on the floor in another one.

His accomplice discharged a shot into the supermarket front canopy when they were leaving.

Gray and his accomplice robbed £2,045 from the EBS in Blackrock, £3,900 from the EBS in Dalkey, £80 from Cromins pharmacy in Edenmore Shopping Centre and £185 from a security guard doing a cash lift at Iceland at Edenmore Shopping Centre.

He later robbed £7,825 from the EBS in Northside Shopping Centre on May 17, 2001. He was then chased by the security guard whom he threatened with a handgun on the Oscar Traynor Road before making his escape.

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