A semi-automatic handgun was “fully loaded and ready for use” when it was found hidden under the bed of a 15-year-old Dublin schoolboy, a court heard today.
The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, appeared at the Dublin Children’s Court today to face a preliminary hearing to determine his trial venue.
He faces two charges under the Firearms Act.
The boy, now aged 16, was accused of unlawful possession of a Walther PPQ 9mm semi-automatic pistol and 11 rounds of 9mm ammunition at his north Dublin on December 3, 2018. The case resumes in May when a ruling on his trial venue will be made.
In an outline of the prosecution evidence, Garda Desmond McNally told Judge Conal Gibbons a warrant was obtained to search the boy’s home on suspicion of drug dealing.
The boy was there with other siblings.
Garda McNally said the weapon was found under the teen’s bed.
He agreed with prosecution solicitor Michael Durkan that there was ammunition was in the gun. “Yes, the firearm was fully loaded and ready for use,” he said.
He told Judge Gibbons the Walther PPQ was a semi-automatic pistol, and “when you press the trigger once in this gun, it keeps firing”.
Garda McNally said the teen was arrested and detained at Clontarf Garda station where he made full admissions.
Defence counsel Beatrice Vance (instructed by solicitor Michael French) put it to the garda that when the boy’s home was entered, the teen very quickly said he had something to show him.
She said the boy directed gardaíto where he had put the gun, under his bed.
Garda McNally said that was correct and the teen did not resist.
The garda also told the court he believed the boy was fully aware of the danger involved.
He agreed with the barrister that the boy told gardaí he had been put under pressure to take the gun and “did not feel like he had any options”. The teen was afraid to disclose who gave him the gun. He also indicated he was relieved when gardaí came.
The Director of Public Prosecutions had recommended the boy should be tried in the Circuit Court, which has tougher sentencing powers.
The Children's Court, however, has the power to accept jurisdiction for serious cases by taking into consideration the age and level of maturity of the accused as well as any other relevant information. This is provided for under Section 75 of the Children Act.
The teen was accompanied to court by his mother and a youth worker from a bail support scheme. He only spoke once during the hearing to confirm his school year.
Pleading for the the case to be kept in the Children’s Court, counsel asked the judge to note the boy was aged 15 at the time, and his reaction when gardaí arrived at his home.
Ms Vance said the boy was in a vulnerable position and was under pressure.
He was still going to school, involved in sports and had no other matters before the court, the judge was told.
Describing the gun seizure as “one of the gravest offences a person can be charged with”, Judge Gibbons deferred ruling on the trial venue issue.
He said he expected to be given more background information.
The court needed to know about the boy’s education and whether there were any psychological reports available, he said.
As a condition of bail the boy be must reside at his home address and obey a 10pm-6am curfew. He was warned today that he had to abide by these bail terms.
The teen was remanded to appear again next month.