Thursday 19 September 2019

Mum (21) charged in connection with gun handover at Connolly Station refused bail

Stock picture
Stock picture

Tom Tuite

A 21-year-old mother of one charged in connection with the handover of a loaded gun on a Dublin to Belfast train was refused bail today as she was returned for trial to the Special Criminal Court.

It was believed the weapon was to be used in the commission of a murder, Dublin District Court was told during a bail hearing today.

Nikita Murtagh from Mariners Port, Sheriff Street, Dublin 1, is charged with unlawful possession of a CZ model 70 semi-automatic pistol, two rounds of 7.65 Browning calibre ammunition and a shotgun cartridge which were allegedly recovered by gardai on the Dublin to Belfast train at Connolly Station on July 19 last.

A court order which had prevented reporters from identifying her was lifted in August following an application by the news media.

Ms Murtagh and Ciaran Ryan (23) from Summerhill, Dublin 1, were arrested following an intelligence led operation involving officers from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

She appeared again at Dublin District Court on Wednesday when she was served with a book of evidence. A State solicitor told Judge Bryan Smyth that Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has decided the ordinary courts were not suitable for the administration of justice in this case.

Judge Smyth acceded to the DPP’s request to send the young woman forward for trial to the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

However, Garda Marguerite Reilly, attached to the Special Crime Task Force, said the woman was a flight risk and had strong links outside the jurisdiction, in Northern Ireland and in other parts of Europe. She said it was believed the loaded firearm was to be used in the commission of a murder. She said the arrest was made during an investigation targeting an organised crime gang in an on-going feud inside and outside this jurisdiction.

She said the woman was seen pushing a buggy with a young child. A handbag containing the firearm and ammunition was on the side of the buggy beside a young child during the handover, it was alleged.

She was arrested later on the same day outside Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport in possession of her passport.

There have been 12 murders in the feud but two of the deaths were not connected to it, Garda Reilly said. It was linked to the illegal importation and distribution of drugs with the proceeds being laundered. She said a criminal gang involved has made “significant wealth”.

She agreed with Michael Higgins SC, for Ms Murtagh, that the young woman was arrested at a bus stop outside Terminal 1 but she did not have a flight ticket. However, it was her belief Ms Murtagh intended to flee the jurisdiction.

The court heard she had no prior criminal convictions. Ms Murtagh, dressed in a white top and blue jeans, wept as she told the court that she would obey any bail condition set down.

She agreed with Mr O’Higgins she has lived at her address all her life.

She said on the day she had missed the bus to Galway and was given a lift by her son’s grandmother to the airport to pick up another bus there. She said her child’s grandmother was going to take the child for the night and she decided to visit a friend in Galway.

She had her passport because she needed it with her in dealing with the social welfare authorities and because she always gets asked for ID when she buys cigarettes.

Ms Murtagh told the court she is being held in “special confinement” for 22 hours a day. She cried as she told the court that she gets let out at 10.50 am and at 6pm and “it’s lights out at 11.15pm”.

The defence submitted that she has strong ties to this country and her boyfriend has currently returned to Ireland. Mr O’Higgins said the woman was not a principal in the case and it was alleged she was being used to transport an item from A to B.

Judge Smyth said he was was satisfied she was flight risk and refused bail. He also told her that she must notify the prosecution within 14 days if she intended to use an alibi in her defence.

A date for her appearance before the Special Criminal Court has not yet been allocated.

The co-defendant, Mr Ryan,who faces the same charges was also refused bail earlier, and is due to  appear again at Cloverhill District Court on Nov. 7 next.

An order banning the media from naming him was lifted last month.

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