A Wexford man has been jailed for five years at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin this morning for the possession of a magnum revolver and ammunition.
Joseph O’Brien (aged 27), of Cherryorchard Heights, Enniscorthy, had pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a Smith & Wesson .41 Magnum revolver and ammunition at The Promenade, Enniscorthy, on September 22 last year.
O’Brien was arrested after a garda investigation in to the activities of dissident republicans in counties Wexford, Waterford and Clare.
Detective Inspector Michael Gibbons told Mr Garnet Orange, prosecuting, that O’Brien was carrying a gym bag containing the magnum revolver and a substantial amount of ammunition when he was intercepted by detectives walking along the promenade in Enniscorthy.
He agreed with counsel for O’Brien, Mr Michael Delaney SC, that O’Brien was carrying the gun and ammunition as part of a planned “hand-over” to another person.
Det Insp Gibbons told the court that although O’Brien was known to local gardaí he did not set any “major alarm bells” ringing with members of the Special Detective Unit.
Mr Delaney told the court that his client had no relevant previous convictions and was a man of previous good character with a young family who tragically found himself before the court in this “predicament”.
He said the case was an appropriate one in which to depart from the presumptive minimum sentence of five years as O’Brien had proffered an early plea of guilty. He said in the circumstances of the case any kind of prison sentence would represent a significant deterrent.
Mr Delaney said he was instructed that O’Brien did not wish to give the court an undertaking as to his future conduct, but urged the court not to infer from this that O’Brien intended to commit an offence in the future.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said that although the offence was a very serious one and carried a maximum sentence of 14 years, the court noted that O’Brien had just one previous conviction and was a young man with an infant child.
He said the court found that the appropriate sentence in this case was one of five years to date from September 25, 2011.
However, Mr Justice Butler said the court could not suspend any portion of that sentence as it had no evidence as to O’Brien’s future conduct and would not suspend a sentence on the basis of a “hope”.