Two young Dublin men have been given sentences of seven and four and a half years for possessing a handgun in suspicious circumstances in a stolen car.
Gardai found Paul Beatty (aged 23) as passenger and Gerard Byrne (aged 20) as driver of a stolen Audi A5 containing a Magnum revolver, two petrol cans and latex gloves in a north Dublin housing estate.
Byrne co-operated with gardaí once they smashed the car windows with batons but Beatty resisted arrest by slipping out of his tops and running into a house up the road bare-chested claiming he’d been shot.
Inspector Colm Murphy agreed with Mr Bernard Condon SC, defending Beatty, that colleagues had described his client as “dazed” following a baton strike on the head before he ran off.
Beatty, of Hawthorn Avenue, East Wall and Byrne, of Spencer Dock, North Wall both pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing a firearm without lawful excuse at Riverside Park, Clonshaugh around 10pm on January 21, 2009.
Byrne, who also pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a vehicle, has 23 previous convictions including similar driving offences, robbery and possessing drugs.
Beatty has 31 previous convictions, including drugs and driving offences, also pleaded guilty to unlawful carriage in a motor car on January 21, 2009.
Judge Katherine Delahunt imposed a sentence of seven years on Beatty and suspended the final two years on conditions. She imposed a sentence of four and a half years on Byrne and suspended the final year.
She said she was taking into consideration comments made by Beatty to a prison officer that he had been on a “mission” to “whack” someone as there was no evidence that there had been any trickery, deception or that Beatty was under pressure to make the comments.
She said that Byrne was not a criminal mastermind and not in the upper echelons of gangland activity in his area.
Insp Murphy told Mr Sean Guerin BL, prosecuting, that two colleagues arrived on the scene after a report about a car acting suspiciously in the estate.
He said the gardaí did a registration check on the Audi A5, discovered it was stolen and blocked its escape with their patrol car, which Byrne hit as he tried to drive off.
Insp Murphy revealed that one garda spotted what he suspected was a gun as he approached Beatty’s door to make an arrest.
Both gardaí then smashed the windows with their batons and hauled the car occupants out.
Beatty escaped briefly but was caught in the kitchen of a nearby home.
Insp Murphy agreed with Mr Condon that gardaí and the house occupants both saw blood on Beatty’s torso from a gash on his head and witnessed him vomiting on the kitchen floor.
The inspector told Mr Guerin that a Cloverhill Prison official reported remarking “you must have been on a mission” to Beatty when he was sent there after his garda interviews, and Beatty responding that he’d been going to “whack” a named person.
He said colleagues also found a phone in the car which had only made contact with its one saved number the day before the incident.
Assistant Chief Prison Officer David Donnelly told Mr Guerin that he had entered this conversation with Beatty, whom he knew from St Patrick’s Institution for young offenders, into the Prison Information System minutes after it had taken place.
He told Mr Condon that he had deemed his question as “light banter” when counsel asked him if he thought it was appropriate to ask something without caution which could be potentially incriminating for the prisoner.
He agreed it was “quite possible” Beatty’s response was also light banter.
Mr Condon submitted to Judge Katherine Delahunt that his client denied the prison conversation ever happened, adding that such an allegation had nothing to do with the charge against his client.
Insp Murphy agreed with Mr Condon that his client had repeated during interview that he would never harm gardaí.
He agreed with Ms Caroline Biggs SC, defending Byrne, that her client had apologised for ramming the patrol car en route to the garda station after arrest and had initially been placed in a padded cell on suicide watch.
Ms Biggs submitted to Judge Delahunt that her client had just turned 18 years old at the time and that his “extreme” reaction to arrest was more consistent with a teenager than a serious gangland criminal.