Man sentenced to seven years for possession of handguns

A Dublin man found in possession of three handguns at his home last February has been sentenced to seven years at the Special Criminal Court.

A Dublin man found in possession of three handguns at his home last February has been sentenced to seven years at the Special Criminal Court.

Brian Walsh (aged 24) of Harmonstown Road, Artane had pleaded guilty to the possession of three Walther 9mm pistols and three magazines suitable for use with the handguns at his home on February 1 last.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court regarded the possession of such “lethal weapons” as a very serious offence and remarked that the handguns had been “expertly reactivated” after decommissioning.

However, he said that there was “a lot to be said” in mitigation and noted that Walsh had apologised for the offence and had given an undertaking to the court not to put himself in such a situation again.

Mr Justice Butler said the court had taken in consideration other charges relating to the possession of explosives and found the most appropriate sentence to be one of seven years with the final three years suspended. This was backdated to when Walsh first went in to custody in February.

At today’s sentence hearing, Detective Sergeant Vincent Markey told Ms Tara Burns BL, prosecuting, that gardaí uncovered plastic bags containing three Walther 9mm handguns and three separate magazines after searching a cupboard in an upstairs bedroom in the house.

He agreed that gardaí also uncovered ammunition, a plastic container with fuses and lengths of pipe with caps, two balaclavas and three mobile phones in the cupboard while a broader search of the premises yielded an explosive powder.

Det Sgt Markey agreed with Ms Burns that the firearms and ammunition were found to be in good condition and that the handguns had been reactivated to a very high standard, having been previously deactivated.

He told the court that Walsh was later arrested and interviewed at Blackrock garda station, where he admitted earlier collecting the guns and ammunition and bringing them to the house.

Det Sgt Markey agreed with counsel for the defendant, Mr Padraig Dwyer SC, that Walsh was not the organiser of the offence and was “way down the food chain” when it came to the implementation of the weapons.

Mr Dwyer told the court there were a “wide range” of specific and exceptional circumstances that could facilitate the court in coming “way down” from the mandatory minimum sentence of five years and even consider a wholly suspended sentence.

He said that Walsh had pleaded guilty, had no previous convictions, had a long history of employment and that his prospects for rehabilitation were good.

Taking to the stand, Brian Walsh agreed with Mr Dwyer that he became involved in the offence after falling in to bad company. He agreed that he was sorry for what he had done and gave an undertaking not to put himself in such a situation again.

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