A Dublin man who was arrested with a loaded gun in Dublin’s north inner city was “an important and trusted member” of an organised crime gang, the non-jury Special Criminal Court has heard.
The three-judge court was told today that the defendant was under surveillance as he cycled along the banks of the Royal Canal, carrying a revolver under his arm, which was wrapped in a plastic bag.
Paul Beatty (32), with an address at Eugene Street, Dublin 8 admitted last December to unlawful possession of a .38 special calibre Smith & Wesson revolver at Charlemont Parade, Dublin 3 on June 2, 2018. The offence is contrary to the provisions of Section 27A(1) of the Firearms Act, 1964.
The possession of five rounds of special calibre ammunition recovered from the chamber of the gun was taken into consideration.
The court also heard that Beatty was jailed for seven years in 2010, having pleaded guilty to the same offence of possession of a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances.
At today’s sentence hearing, Inspector Leonard Brennan of the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau summarised the facts of the case.
Insp Brennan told prosecuting counsel Gareth Baker BL that a surveillance operation was put in place after gardaí received confidential information concerning firearm-related activity. The witness said that he instructed colleagues to monitor the activities of three men.
Detective Garda Damien Broughan was on duty on June 2 and was aware that Beatty and another man had been seen together in the Phibsborough area.
Beatty was seen cycling down the Royal Canal beside Mountjoy Prison on the day. At 4.30pm he cycled along Ballybough Road in the direction of Fairview. Gardai believed that the defendant was in possession of a firearm and pulled their vehicle "across his path".
According to Insp Brennan, Beatty jumped off his bike and ran back in the direction from which he came. Det Gda Broughan pursued the defendant on foot and a short chase ensued. The detective conveyed to Beatty that he was armed but he ran onto Clonmore Road in Ballybough before turning onto Charlemont Parade.
At this point, Det Gda Broughan observed Beatty throw a white plastic bag onto a footpath and the chase continued.
Beatty was then tackled to the ground by the detective on Charleville Avenue and restrained before assistance arrived.
Detective Garda Declan Quinn returned to Charlemont Parade and recovered the plastic bag, which had been thrown by Beatty moments earlier. It contained a revolver and a number of rounds of ammunition, the court heard.
Following his arrest, Beatty was conveyed to Mountjoy garda station and nothing of evidential value arose during his initial interview.
Insp Brennan agreed with prosecution counsel Mr Baker that certain inference related legislation was invoked in subsequent interviews but Beatty denied committing the offence.
The revolver was analysed by ballistics and found to be in a good condition but its serial number had been obliterated. Five rounds of ammunition were found in the chamber of the gun, the court heard.
Under cross-examination, Insp Brennan told Mark Thompson BL, defending, that Beatty had been raised by his mother but became involved in criminality at a young age.
71 previous convictions
The court heard that Beatty has 71 previous convictions which include endangerment, possession of drugs and dangerous driving. He pleaded guilty to the same offence of possession of a firearm and ammunition in suspicious circumstances in 2010 and received a seven-year sentence, said Insp Brennan.
The witness agreed with Mr Thompson that his client's guilty plea was of value to the court. Insp Brennan said that Beatty was an “important figure” who had carried out the activity on the day. Furthermore, the witness said that while he could not say that the defendant was the leader of the gang, he was a “trusted member of the gang".
Insp Brennan further agreed with the defence counsel that Beatty had grown up in the same area as other members of the gang saying: “Yes, they would be friends”.
CCTV footage had shown Beatty running as he carried the supermarket bag under his arm, the court heard.
The Inspector further agreed with counsel that Beatty had been on a bicycle and two other individuals were in a car at the time and they had all been under surveillance for a large portion of the day.
Mr Thompson said Beatty worked as a labourer, was in a relationship and had been caught with a large quantity of drugs a few days prior to this event.
The mandatory minimum sentence for this offence is five years in prison and a probation report was ordered by the court.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Patricia Ryan and Judge Ann Ryan, remanded Beatty in custody until May 28, when he will be sentenced.