Earlier this month, Ursula Shannon, aged 30, who is a PhD student, a graduate of Trinity College and prominent member of socialist republican group Éirigi, and co-accused John McGreal, aged 37, and Colin Brady, aged 24, were found guilty of the offences by the Special Criminal Court.
The non-jury court heard the accused were wearing disguises when they were intercepted by armed gardaí outside a residential premises in Co Offaly which doubled as a business for a licensed firearms seller.
Detective Inspector Michael Gibbons told the court that one of the handguns recovered, a Brazilian- made Taurus pistol, was used in a murder in Tallaght in February 2002. He said there was no suggestion that any of the defendants were involved in that offence.
CCTV footage of the interception of the stolen van was played to the court, which was invited to infer that the people in the van were there to rob the shop and steal the firearms.
Shannon, McGreal and Brady had pleaded not guilty to the possession of two handguns and 32 rounds of ammunition at Tullybeg, Rahan, Co Offaly, on November 27, 2012, but had not challenged any of the evidence in the case.
They had pleaded not guilty to the unlawful possession of one 9mm parabellum calibre Taurus PT92 semi-automatic pistol, one magazine suitable for use with the Taurus PT92 pistol, one 9mm parabellum calibre Walther P5 semi-automatic pistol and one ZGJY branded combined stun gun and flashlight.
They had also pleaded not guilty to the possession of 25 rounds of 9mm ammunition and seven rounds of 9mm ammunition.
John Troy, aged 34, a fourth co-accused of Dunard Avenue, Cabra, had pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of the same Taurus pistol, magazine, Walther P5 pistol and one ZGJY-branded combined stun gun and flashlight.
A charge of possession of the same 25 rounds of 9mm ammunition and seven rounds of 9mm ammunition was taken in to consideration. McGreal and Troy were also charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the IRA on November 27, 2012.
Counsel for the State Mr Shane Costelloe BL told the court the DPP was entering a ‘nolle prosequi’ – not proceeding with those charges.
Shannon, of Inglewood Crescent, Clonsilla, and Brady, of Ashgrove, Baskin Lane, Kinsealy, have no previous convictions, but John Troy was sentenced by the special criminal court in 2005 to four years for IRA membership. McGreal, of Thornchase, Palmer Road, Rush, has five convictions.