Friday 24 November 2017

Man jailed for five years by Special Criminal Court for possession of firearms and ammunition

The Special Criminal Court
The Special Criminal Court

Daniel Hickey

A Dublin man has been jailed for five years by the Special Criminal Court for possession of firearms and ammunition.

The non-jury court previously heard evidence that members of the Special Detective Unit were investigating the importing of firearms from the USA.

Pierce Moran (61) of Church Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, had faced three charges.

The first alleged that on November 15th, 2014, at Church Road, East Wall, Dublin 3 he was in possession of various semi-automatic pistols, including an 8mm Knall calibre Valtro model AP29, a 9mm short calibre CZ model 83, a 9mm calibre Makarov PM and a 9mm short calibre Baikal model IZH79-8, as well as a silencer suitable for use with the Makarov pistol and a 12-gauge Beretta model A.300 semi-automatic, sawn-off shotgun.

The second charge alleged that Moran was in possession of various firearm magazines, suitable for use in the pistols from the first charge, at the same address on the same date.

Additionally, he faced the charge of possession of assorted ammunition, also at the same address and on the same date.

At the opening of the trial last month, the court entered on Moran's behalf pleas of not guilty (NOT GUILTY).

He was convicted last Wednesday.

Today, summarizing the facts of the case, Detective Inspector William Hanrahan, of the Special Detective Unit, told the court that on November 15th, 2014, a number of gardai, including Detective Sergeant John Kearney, obtained a search warrant for Moran's home and travelled there with other detectives. 

The court heard that Moran answered the door and permitted the detectives inside, after which the premises were searched.

In a bedroom, detectives found a shopping-bag containing four pistols, a number of magazines containing ammunition and a silencer, the court heard.

Det Insp Hanrahan said that Moran, who had been in the living-room, was brought into the bedroom and shown the pistols. 370 Euro was also found and handed back to Moran.

The detective told the court that Moran was arrested.

Later, a sawn-off semi-automatic shotgun, wrapped inside a fishing bag, was found in a room adjoining the bedroom, the court heard.

Moran was taken to Mountjoy garda station, where he was questioned.

The court heard that during an interview, gardai invoked Section 18 of the Criminal Justice Act. The section states that a court may draw inferences from the failure or refusal to account for certain matters.

Det Insp Hanrahan said that Moran relied on his right to silence.

The court also heard evidence about Moran's co-accused, Stephen Hendrick (49), who in February was sentenced by the Special Criminal Court to eight years for the possession of explosives, firearms and ammunition, as well as three years for the possession of ammunition.

The offences for which he received an eight-year sentence had been committed while he was on bail, the court heard.

Hendrick, of Balbutcher Drive, Ballymun, Dublin 11 had pleaded guilty (GUILTY) to the charges. 

Hugh Hartnett SC, for Moran, told the court that until becoming ill a number of years ago, his client used to be a carpenter.

He also submitted that Moran had facilitated the trial and saved the court's time by not contesting some aspects of the evidence.

The court heard that Moran had no previous convictions. "He is 61 years of age," Mr Hartnett said, adding that Moran had "never been in trouble before".

He said that various aspects of Hendrick's sentence that did not apply to Moran's case.

Sentencing Moran, Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding with Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Flann Brennan, said the case was "serious" in the number of firearms involved.

Mr Justice Butler said there were a number of mitigating factors, including Moran's "co-operation to some extent in that some matters were not challenged".

The largest mitigating factor, he said, was that Moran was 61 years of age and "without any significant or relevant criminal convictions".

Regarding Hendrick's sentence, the judge stated that the crimes were more serious and an "aggravating factor" was that Hendrick was on bail at the time of the offences for which he received eight years.

Moran was given concurrent five-year jail sentences for each of the three charges. His sentence was backdated to November 15th, 2014, when he was first arrested.

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