Tuesday 24 October 2017

Sons of late billionaire Citywest hotel boss Jim Mansfield to face trial on ammunition charges later this year

From front to back: Jim Mansfield Jnr and PJ Mansfield
From front to back: Jim Mansfield Jnr and PJ Mansfield

Eimear Cotter

The information sworn by a detective to obtain a warrant to search businessman Jim Mansfield and his brother PJ's homes must be furnished to their legal team by the end of this week, a judge has ruled.

Detectives from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Unit had asked for some months to furnish the sworn information, claiming that details in it could jeopardise an ongoing criminal investigation.

Jim Mansfield (48) is charged with having 180 rounds of .22 Walther ammunition without a firearms licence at his home at Tassaggart House in Saggart on January 29, 2015.

Two further charges of possession of a Fabarm pump action shotgun and 19 rounds of 12" gauge shotgun cartridges with a certificate were struck out.

His brother Patrick James (PJ) Mansfield (38) is accused of possession of 1,252 rounds of Walther ammunition without a firearms licence at his former home at Coldwinters Lake in Saggart.

They are sons of the late billionaire hotel boss Jim Mansfield, who passed away in January 2014. Jim Manfield Snr was the businessman behind the popular Citywest hotel and Weston Airport as well as a number of high profile businesses. A number of these ventures collapsed in the recession.

Gardai previously alleged that during a search of PJ's home they found a licensed Walter pistol and 1,552 rounds of ammunition, which was 1,252 more than the 300 rounds he was licensed to hold.

In relation to Jim Mansfield, Judge David McHugh had refused jurisdiction to deal with his case at district court level. However, he was asked by a State solicitor to re-consider the allegations after two of the charges were struck out.

Detective Garda Ian Pemberton alleged that gardai searched Mr Mansfield's home under warrant and located a legally-held Walther pistol as well as 480 rounds of ammunition, which was 180 rounds of ammunition in excess of the licence.

Judge McHugh accepted jurisdiction of the charge.

Defence counsel Tony McGullicuddy said his clients would be pleading not guilty to the charges.

Mr McGullicuddy requested a copy of the information which a garda swore to a judge to obtain the warrant to search the men's home.

He said this clients required this information if they wished to challenge the validity of the search warrant.

A State solicitor said he accepted the sworn information was part and parcel of the search warrant and must be disclosed "at some point" to the defence.

However, he said that the sworn information pertained to an ongoing investigation, and there were other people named in the information, who were not party to the proceedings before the court.

He asked for the case to be adjourned to a date in September or October, to allow the ongoing investigation to conclude.

Mr McGullicuddy said his clients had the right to an expeditious trial, and he argued the right course of action was to strike out the charges against the Mansfield brothers and "the State can take whatever course when the ongoing investigation concludes".

Judge McHugh said he was not willing to strike out the charges.

He said that if the parties cannot reach an agreement on the disclosure of the sworn information then the court can set deadlines.

He ordered that the entire information be disclosed to defence as "ultimately that is their right".

The judge said the information sworn by the garda was "very extensive", saying it was he who had viewed the information and signed the search warrant.

In light of this, Judge McHugh said the allegations should be heard by another judge. He adjourned the case into a court in the Criminal Courts of Justice next week to allow the Mansfield brothers to enter a plea to the charges.

Mr McGullicuddy said the parties had agreed the information would be furnished to the defence "by the end of this week".

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