Tuesday 23 January 2018

Man bought blank firing pistol after he thought he found his dog's bones in fireplace, court hears

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

By Sonya McLean

A Tipperary resident bought a blank firing pistol online to protect himself from a colleague after he discovered what he believed were the bones of his missing dog in a fireplace, a court has heard.

Jiri Vecernik (45), who is originally from the Czech Republic, was stopped in Dublin Airport with the weapon after it was discovered in his checked-in luggage.

He later told gardaí he had bought the weapon, which although in good working condition, was not capable of firing lethal ammunition, for his own protection.

Subsequent analysis of the pistol found it to be a German made blank firing revolver which was capable of discharing cartridges that contained a pepper spray type substance.

Vecernik of Mill House, Coolville, Clogheen in Tipperary pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the revolver at Dublin Airport on December 22, 2013.

Vecernik said he had an argument with a Slovak man and fellow colleague five years previously. The row was over a dog belonging to Vecernik and his girlfriend. The encounter turned physical and the other man allegedly pulled a knife on him.

Later the couple found bones in their fireplace, which they believed were those of their missing dog.

Garda Kevin Nolan told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting that he investigated this story and found garda reports of an incident between the two men but said neither party made a follow-up complaint.

He agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that Vecernik was still afraid in 2013 that this other man may return but accepted a suggestion from counsel that this was with “a degree of irrationality”.

The court heard Vecernik has no previous convictions and came to live in Ireland in 2006. He has been working as a handyman in the house where he lives in Tipperary since his arrival.

Judge Martin Nolan said he would “proceed to conviction” but would give Vecernik the “benefit of the Probation Act”.

He said it was an unusual situation and accepted that Vecernik didn’t realise he needed a certificate for the pistol.

“This is re-enforced by his actions. It was a stupid thing to do considering he knew all checked-in luggage would be x-rayed,” the judge said.

Gda Nolan told Mr Kennedy that Vecernik confirmed with airport officials that the weapon was his and he had put it in his own luggage. He was on his way to the Czech Republic when he was stopped.

He fully co-operated with the subsquent garda investigation and outlined his reason for buying the pistol. He said he had bought it for €70 online and didn’t know that he needed a license for it.

Gda Nolan confirmed that Vecernik has not come to garda attention since and hasn’t breached his bail conditions.

He agreed with Mr Le Vert that Vecernik’s boss was in court to support him and desribed him as “a model employee”. The Slovak man was fired shortly after the encounter with Vecernik.

Gda Nolan accepted that Vecernik confirmed that it had not been his intention to take the gun on the plane which was why he checked his luggage in. He told officers that he wouldn’t need a license for a weapon like that in his native country.

Mr Le Vert asked Judge Nolan to take into account his client’s good work history and lack of previous convictions but accepted that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” for involvement in crime.

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