A member of a "hit team" has been jailed for eight years by the Special Criminal Court for having a Beretta handgun and silencer after a confrontation with armed gardaí during which an officer opened fire on a jeep.
The three-judge court heard Owen Cummins had driven the jeep straight towards gardaí in a narrow roadway as they restrained his co-accused on the ground. One of the officers drew his firearm at the defendant as he had feared for his life and that of the man he was restraining on the ground.
When the garda discharged his gun, the jeep veered to the side and smashed into a parked car while “accelerating at 95 per cent capacity”, the court was told.
Cummins, 41, with an address at St Attracta Road, Cabra, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty at the three-judge court last November to possessing a Beretta handgun and silencer two years ago.
Cummins was charged with possessing a firearm, namely a Beretta 92s handgun and silencer in such circumstances as to give rise to a reasonable inference that he had not got it in his possession for a lawful purpose at Jamestown Road, Inchicore, Dublin 8 on September 6, 2017.
Passing sentence today, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Cummins had recently suffered a personal tragedy when his 19-year-old child died in a road traffic accident. "His attendance at the funeral was not logistically feasible and he had adopted a realistic stance to that matter," said the judge.
Mr Justice Hunt noted that Cummins' barrister had submitted that his participation was at the "lowest part of the pyramid" and he had been persuaded by those higher up to act as driver of the van and had been exploited in this way.
The firearm was of a lethal variety and there was a bullet in the breach ready for use, continued the judge.
He said the appropriate headline sentence was 12 years but as a result of the mitigating circumstances including his guilty plea, he would reduce the headline sentence from 12 years to nine years and six months.
A further 18 months was suspended in order to encourage the defendant's rehabilitation.
Mr Justice Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Dermot Dempsey, sentenced Cummins to nine years and six months imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended. It was backdated to May 27 2019 when he went into custody.