Jail for man who ordered dark net grenades

A man who ordered two grenades off the dark net has been jailed for three years and six months for IRA membership.

Darren Gleeson, aged 35, with an address at Corduff Green, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, pleaded guilty last month at the Special Criminal Court to membership of an unlawful organisation, styling itself as the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA, within the State on May 18, 2017.

Before handing down sentence yesterday at the three-judge, non-jury court, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding, sitting with Judge Sinead Ní Chúlacháin and Judge Cormac Dunne, read the facts of the case to the court.

An investigation was undertaken by the Special Detective Unit in relation to the IRA in the Dublin area in May 2017, said Ms Justice Kennedy.

Detective Superintendent Michael Gibbons, of the Special Detective Unit, received information that the IRA was attempting to import explosives into this jurisdiction, the court heard.

Det Sgt Gibbons became aware of two parties communicating through the dark net about acquiring explosives. A person using the moniker “guilleoteen” was seeking two grenades and paid using Bitcoin. The parcel was to be delivered to a “Darren Kinsella”.

There was a suggestion that this person might be making further enquiries of availability into the future.

The delivery was intercepted and gardaí arranged a “controlled” delivery of two inert grenades at the address on May 18.

The accused signed the DHL document as “Darren Kinsella” and accepted delivery of the package to the house which was his girlfriend’s address. Within three to four minutes, members of the Emergency Response Unit arrived at the front door.

The accusedopened the front door and was carrying a Stanley knife which he had been using to open the package, said the judge.

Gleeson was arrested that day for the offence of membership and taken to Finglas Garda Station. He was interviewed on five occasions but generally did not answer any questions.

Ms Justice Kennedy said Gleeson has a significant number of previous convictions which included four burglaries and two robberies. She noted that none were of the same significance as membership of an unlawful organisation.

The judge said that while Det Spt Gibbons agreed that Gleeson was somebody operating at the lower level within the organisation, nonetheless “sufficient trust” was placed in him to arrange the delivery of the explosives.

Having regard to the gravity of the offence, the judge said the maximum sentence is eight years in prison.

The aggravating factor in the case is the significant degree of harm that could have been caused.

Mitigating factors in sentencing, Ms Justice Kennedy said, were Gleeson’s guilty plea, his co-operation with gardaí at the scene, and his family circumstances.

She said his previous convictions had reduced his mitigation.

Gleeson was jailed for three years and six months. The sentence was backdated to May 18 this year.

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