Thursday 22 August 2019

Schoolboy (15) had semi-automatic pistol 'fully loaded and ready for use’ under his bed

The Children's Court, Smithfield
The Children's Court, Smithfield

Tom Tuite

A THEN 15-year-old schoolboy is to face Circuit Court trial after a semi-automatic handgun “fully loaded and ready for use” was found under his bed.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, appeared at the Dublin Children’s Court today for the conclusion of a preliminary hearing to decide his trial venue.

He faces two charges under the Firearms Act.

The boy, now aged 16, was accused of unlawful possession of a Walther PPQ 9mm semi-automatic pistol and 11 rounds of 9mm ammunition at his north Dublin on December 3, 2018. The case resumes in May when a ruling on his trial venue will be made.

Refusing jurisdiction, Judge Brendan Toale held the case was too serious and should be sent forward to the Circuit Court which has tougher sentencing powers.

The boy, who was accompanied to court by his parents and his barrister, was ordered to appear again in six weeks to be served with a book of evidence.

In an outline of the prosecution evidence, Garda Desmond McNally said a warrant was obtained to search the boy’s home on suspicion of drug dealing.

The boy was there with other siblings.

Garda McNally said the weapon was found under the teen’s bed.

He agreed with prosecution solicitor Michael Durkan that there was ammunition was in the gun. “Yes, the firearm was fully loaded and ready for use,” he said.

He said the Walther PPQ was a semi-automatic pistol, and “when you press the trigger once in this gun, it keeps firing”.

Garda McNally said the teen was arrested and detained at Clontarf Garda station where he made full admissions.

Defence counsel Beatrice Vance (instructed by solicitor Michael French) put it to the garda that when the boy’s home was entered, the teen very quickly said he had something to show him.

She said the boy directed gardai to where he had put the gun, under his bed.

Garda McNally said that was correct and the teen did not resist.

The garda also told the court he believed the boy was fully aware of the danger involved.

He agreed with the barrister that the boy told gardai he had been put under pressure to take the gun and “did not feel like he had any options”. The teen was afraid to disclose who gave him the gun. He also indicated he was relieved when gardai came.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had also recommended the boy should be tried in the Circuit Court.

The Children's Court, however, has the power to accept jurisdiction for serious cases by taking into consideration the age and level of maturity of the accused as well as any other relevant information. This is provided for under Section 75 of the Children Act.

Pleading for the the case to be kept in the Children’s Court, counsel asked that it would be noted the boy was aged 15 at the time, and his reaction when gardai arrived at his home.

Ms Vance said the boy was in a vulnerable position and was under pressure.

He was still going to school, involved in sports and had no other matters before the court.

As a condition of bail the boy be must reside at his home address and obey a 10pm-6am curfew.

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