Sunday 22 July 2018

Mother who claimed she had gun in air vent because of a threat on her life jailed

Niamh Fitzpatrick (39) previously pleaded guilty to possessing a Smith & Wesson revolver in an air vent in her home
Niamh Fitzpatrick (39) previously pleaded guilty to possessing a Smith & Wesson revolver in an air vent in her home

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Sonya McLean

A Dublin mother who told gardaí she had a gun for self protection because of a threat on her life has been sentenced to five years with the final two years suspended.

Garda Michelle Fitzpatrick told a sentence hearing last month that colleagues had served Niamh Fitzpatrick (39) GIM forms, which are Garda forms to notify a person of a threat on their life.

The garda then agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that there had been a threat against Fitzpatrick but that had expired.

Mr Spencer submitted to Judge Melanie Greally that his client had been abducted from her flat and suffered a violent attack from a person who is since deceased. Counsel said Fitzpatrick suffered from “profound Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” as a result of this violence.

Fitzpatrick, a mother-of-one from O'Rahilly House, Ringsend, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing a Smith & Wesson revolver in an air vent at her home on February 23, 2017.

She has 21 previous convictions, mostly for minor road traffic offences.

Today, Judge Greally said she didn't think Fitzpatrick's explanation for how she came into possession of the gun was credible and said it “did not stand up to scrutiny”.

She said a number of reports set out in “considerable detail” the many aspects of Fitzpatrick's history, “the traumatic incidents which have shaped her life and the damaging alliances which she had formed over her adult life”.

The judge said she was taking into account the fact that Fitzpatrick had “taken steps” over the years to address her heroin addiction and the fact that she had a number of mental health issues.

Judge Greally sentenced Fitzpatrick to five years in prison and suspended the final two years on condition that she remain under 18 months of probation supervision on her ultimate release from prison.

Gda Fitzpatrick told John Fitzgerald BL, prosecuting at the earlier sentence hearing, that she got a warrant to search the defendant's address on foot of an investigation into the sale and supply of drugs in the area.

She said she and colleagues encountered Fitzpatrick on the way to search her home. Fitzpatrick opted to attend with gardaí and admitted she had heroin on her person. She also admitted having a gun in a vent in the wall in her sitting room.

Gda Fitzpatrick said she and colleagues seized the gun, which had one round of ammunition in its chamber, a number of mobile phones and over €4,200 of heroin on the premises.

The garda told Mr Fitzgerald that the gun was “in very good condition”. During her interview, Fitzpatrick told gardaí she had the firearm for her protection because of the earlier threat on her life.

She also said she was holding the drugs because she had a €20,000 credit union debt.

Gda Fitzpatrick agreed with Mr Spencer that his client had entered a very early guilty plea.

Mr Spencer submitted to Judge Greally that Fitzpatrick had had a chaotic life but had great support from her father. He said his client had significant psychological problems rooted in substance abuse and the traumatic experiences she had had throughout her life.

He said Fitzpatrick had been unemployed due to her difficulties. He submitted she was now drug free, apart from the prescribed medication she takes for her psychological issues.

Counsel asked the judge to reflect on the serious nature of the offence in a lengthy suspended sentence.

He said Fitzpatrick was regretful and had dealt with the case in the best way she could.

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