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Ex-soldier hid pellet gun in his gym bag

AN ex-soldier hid a pellet gun in a gym bag as he did not want his nieces and nephews to find it, a court heard.

Derek Hill (26) originally told gardai an ex-girlfriend bought him the pellet gun while on holidays in Lanzarote. But he declined to answer their questions when he was formally interviewed in relation to it.

Judge Patrick Clyne ordered Hill to complete 160 hours community service in lieu of eight months in prison.

Hill had denied ownership of a pellet gun which was found at his family home at Thomas Moore Road in Walkinstown.

Dublin District Court heard that gardai obtained a search warrant under the misuse of drugs act and searched the defendant's family home on October 13, 2009.

Detective Garda Frank O'Neill said that during the course of the search he found a blue gym bag inside the porch.

Garda O'Neill said he searched the bag and found a black firearm. It was later examined by garda experts and was found to be a pellet gun.

Garda Shane Curtis told the court he subsequently arrested Hill, cautioned him and brought him to Sundrive Road Garda Station for questioning.

Garda Curtis gave evidence that Hill told him a girlfriend bought him the pellet gun in Spain and that he kept it in his gym bag because his nieces and nephews play in the house.

Diana Stuart, defending, argued that this evidence was inadmissible because Garda Curtis did not take notes.

However, Judge Clyne said common sense must prevail and it was not possible to make written notes in a moving vehicle.

Garda Curtis said he later interviewed Hill, who clarified he got the pellet gun from an ex-girlfriend who bought it on holidays in Lanzarote.

The defendant's mother Carmel Hill also gave a statement saying the gym bag belonged to her son Derek, and he always left it in the porch.

However, in her evidence Mrs Hill said the bag could have belonged to anyone and she never really saw Derek with it.

Ms Stuart argued there was no evidence linking Hill with the gun but Judge Clyne said he was satisfied the gun belonged to the defendant.

Ms Stuart said the defendant, a father of one, was formerly in the Irish Army and is a qualified electrician. He is currently unemployed.

Judge Clyne ordered Hill to complete 160 hours community service in lieu of eight months in prison.