A man who was transporting firearms and ammunition for a criminal to repay a ‘debt’ as a result of seized drugs has been given an eight year sentence by Judge Katherine Delahunt at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Stephen Byrne (aged 41), of Rathvilly Drive, Finglas at first claimed he found the firearm and was on his way to hand in the gun and ammunition but later revealed he had a "debt" due to drugs seized from him by gardai.
Byrne pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine valued €13,000 at his home on July 18, 2003 and possession of 22 rounds of several types of ammunition at North Circular Road, Phibsborough on June 20, 2007.
Judge Delahunt told Byrne he had committed the drugs offence for "commercial gain" after falling in with "a wrong crowd" and noted he committed the firearms offence while on bail for the drugs offence.
She also noted that he had a supportive family, had not come to any further garda attention and was not at significant risk of re-offending.
Judge Delahunt imposed consecutive four year sentences on each count but suspended the final two years.
Detective Garda Rowan Casey told Ms Roisin Lacey BL, prosecuting, that gardai observing a location in Phibsborough stopped and searched a car being driven by Byrne at Doyle’s Corner.
Det Gda Casey said a bag containing a semi automatic pistol and several bullets was found in the car boot.
Byrne initially told gardai that he found the items at Pigeon House Road while looking at wind surfers and was on his way to a garda station to hand them in.
Det Gda Casey said Byrne later told gardai that he had "a drug debt" and had received a phone call to pick up a package in order to reduce his "debt". He said he was due to make a phone call to someone who would collect it and only found out its contents when he looked inside.
Det Gda Casey agreed with Mr Paul Carroll BL, defending, that Byrne, who has no previous convictions, claimed he had accrued the debt due to drugs "lost" when they were seized from his home by gardaí.
Mr Carroll said things had begun going "terribly wrong" for Byrne five years ago when he fell in with "a wrong crowd" and these cases were a result of his "recklessness" due to combination of factors including "financial difficulties, martial difficulties and abuse difficulties".
He said Byrne had been in custody since last October "which has played a part in the light dawning on him." He also co-operated with gardaí and was not at serious risk of reoffending.