A retired Irish army weapons instructor who pulled a revolver in a Limerick takeaway after “losing the rag” with two children was yesterday jailed at Limerick Circuit Court.
Denis O’Keeffe, aged 54, of Ballynanty Rd, pleaded guilty to possessing a Webley revolver in suspicious circumstances.
O’Keeffe, who served with UN peacekeeping missions in the Lebanon and Israel, told gardaí that, on producing the gun, the two boys, aged 10 and 12, ran off fearing for their lives.
Det Garda Fergal Hanrahan, said that, on November 3, 2015, gardaí went to O’Keeffe’s home following a report about an incident earlier at Freda’s chipper near to where O’Keeffe lived.
Gardai met O’Keefe lying on a couch. He was drunk and tried to conceal the gun as the gardaí walked in.
The gun, which could be used, was rusty and in poor condition.
The accused told gardaí if he wanted a gun he would not buy “shite”.
As a retired firearms instructor in the army, he said dealing with guns was like cleaning his face.
O’Keeffe gave various accounts as to why he had the gun, including having it for his own protection; having it in memory of his son who owned it and had died some months previously; and that he got it to repair it.
He told gardaí he brought it with him to the chipper for his own protection and kept it as a deterrent.
At the chipper, he pulled it out when two children got smart and were acting like “bold little c***s”.
He said: “I lost my cool. Nobody was shot and nobody was going to get shot.”
Det Garda Hanrahan said their only concern was to find out why O’Keeffe had the gun.
Brian McInerney, defending, said the gun, although capable of being fired, was a rusty piece of metal and of First World War vintage.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said he did not want to go into the historical nature of the gun.
He said: “A gun is a gun is a gun, whether it goes back to the Siege of Limerick in 1691 and a musket. This is a firearm, a working firearm. And I must say I found his explanations puzzling.”
He said the DPP felt the case was in the mid range meriting a sentence of between seven and 10 years.
O’Keeffe, he said, had been described as a Walter Mitty-type character and had lost a son in tragic circumstances.
He had minor convictions and had never served a jail sentence.
Judge O’Donnell imposed a four-year sentence with the final two years suspended.
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