Saturday 24 February 2018

Trial of Mansfield brother halted as judge rules case is 'too serious' for district court

Patrick James Mansfield and Jim Mansfield Jr arrive at court earlier this year Picture: Collins
Patrick James Mansfield and Jim Mansfield Jr arrive at court earlier this year Picture: Collins

Andrew Phelan

A judge has halted the trial of a son of late billionaire hotel boss Jim Mansfield on ammunition charges, ruling that the case is too serious to be dealt with at district court level.

Patrick James (PJ) Mansfield was being tried at Dublin District Court for having more than 1,000 bullets without a licence, with evidence from several garda witnesses heard, when Judge Ann Ryan refused jurisdiction to continue with the case.

This afternoon, she adjourned proceedings for the preparation of a book of evidence.

Mr Mansfield will instead be sent for trial by jury to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court when the book is ready.

Meanwhile, Mr Mansfield’s brother Jim Mansfield Junior had his case adjourned for mention on the same date. He is facing a similar charge arising from a separate garda search but no evidence has been heard yet.

PJ Mansfield (39) is accused of possession of 1,257 rounds of Walther ammunition without a firearms licence at his former home at Coldwater Lakes in Saggart on January 29, 2015.

Jim Mansfield Jr (49) is charged with having 180 rounds of .22 Walther ammunition without a firearms licence at his home at Tassaggart House in Saggart.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The accused are sons of Jim Mansfield Snr, who passed away in January 2014.

He was the businessman behind the Citywest Hotel, Weston Airport and a number of other high-profile ventures. Several of these other businesses collapsed in the recession.

When PJ Mansfield’s case got underway, gardai alleged a total of 1,557 .22 Walther bullets were found in a search of the house at Coldwater Lakes.

Ammunition was found in a gun safe, a wardrobe and a garage, gardai said.

Of the Walther bullets found, a total of 1,257 was in excess of what was permitted under licence, it was alleged.

Gardai also found a Walther pistol loaded with one bullet behind a picture hanging above the bed in the master bedroom, the court heard.

A shotgun was found in the gun safe and both firearms were legally licenced.

Giving evidence, Detective Sergeant Brendan Flanagan who was attached to the Criminal Assets Bureau, said a warrant was issued at the District Court and he went to PJ Mansfield’s address at around 7am. There was a large gate at the driveway which he scaled before ringing the front doorbell, he said.

The front door was opened by the accused and Det Sgt Flanagan identified himself and explained his purpose for being there.

There were three other gardai and a revenue officer present. Det Sgt Flanagan said he had a warrant to search the premises, showed Mr Mansfield the original and gave him a copy.

The accused told him his girlfriend was upstairs in bed at the time and Mr Mansfield agreed that they would both come to the kitchen while the search was being carried out.

Cross-examined by Tony McGillicuddy BL, for the defence, Det Sgt Flanagan confirmed that quantities of ammunition had been found in a gun safe, a garage, and wardrobe.

Detective Garda Maria Flynn said the pistol that was found was loaded.

“It was capable immediately of firing on the trigger being pulled,” she said. “I removed the clip and the bullet to render it safe.”

Detective Garda Nigel Petrie said the accused was only licenced to have 300 rounds so he separated those out and seized the excess.

After hearing the evidence of the three gardai, Judge Ryan said she had reconsidered the issue of jurisdiction and decided the case was too serious to proceed in the district court.

She adjourned it to a date in January.

Earlier, she had adjourned Jim Mansfield Jr’s case to the same date after the court heard there would not be time to hear it on the same day as his brother’s.

Jim Mansfield’s case remains before the district court.

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