A 25-year-old man caught with a loaded handgun was a trusted member of an organised crime gang who were planning an imminent attack on a rival north Dublin faction, the Special Criminal Court heard today.
Jake Kearney of Coolock Drive, Dublin 17, pleaded guilty on May 5 to unlawful possession of a Grandpower semi-automatic pistol at Oscar Traynor Road, Santry, Dublin 9, on 30 October, 2019.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt noted today that Jake Kearney's mother, whose home was burnt out after his arrest, was being "punished for the crime of her son" in what he described as a "desperate situation".
Detective Garda James Doolan of the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that confidential information had alerted gardaí about the handover of a firearm outside the Coachman's Inn on the Swords Road for the purpose being used in a feud between organised crime gangs in north Dublin.
Arriving at the scene at 9.10pm along with a number of other Garda units, Det Gda Doolan told Ms Grant that he observed a silver Skoda Octavia taxi with three males in the vehicle.
Det Gda Doolan observed the rear passenger walk towards the patrol car and that he identified Kearney, wearing a black hoodie and tracksuit bottoms, as he passed the driver side of their unmarked unit.
The witness said he observed Kearney on his phone and that he disappeared out of sight for a few minutes before returning to speak to the driver of the Octavia. A Volkswagen Passat then parked in front of the pub and Kearney spoke to the driver before walking back to the Octavia.
Gardaí followed the Octavia to Oscar Traynor Road where they stopped the car and observed a black handgun in the foot-well behind the driver's seat. Kearney, who was wearing a pair of latex gloves, was arrested and conveyed to Ballymun Garda Station.
The gloves and Kearney's mobile phone were seized along with the handgun, which was found to be functional. Eight 9mm bullets were also found in the handgun's magazine.
"Mr Kearney would have been a trusted member of this organised crime group and the information we received was that the firearms was to be used in an imminent attack against a rival faction. But I have no information on whether or not Mr Kearney was to use the firearm himself, just that it was to be used," said Det Gda Doolan.
Details of Kearney's previous convictions, which include two for drug dealing, were handed into the court.
Aoife O'Halloran BL, defending, said all of her client's convictions were at District Court level. Ms O'Halloran said her client had drug difficulties and that he got into criminal activity because he knew members of the group since childhood and they were "close friends".
Ms O'Halloran said that he client's mother's house "was burned out in an arson attack thereafter as a direct result of the information around the arrest". Ms O'Halloran said that it was Kearney's mother's intent to leave the area and that her client would follow her to start a new life.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said that if Kearney "doesn't know the consequences now he never will. He may have thought of this as a bit of a lark with his friends but think of his poor mother, a decent woman who's worked hard all her life and this is the reward she gets? She's being punished for the crime of her son - it's a desperate situation."
Counsel said Kearney, who had been living at home, suffered from anxiety and depression, which was exacerbated by cannabis use. She said that there was a history of mental health issues in the family, regarding Kearney's father, and that his drug use created a paranoia.
Ms O'Halloran said her client had "kept the wolf from the door" regarding his peer group but the combination of a number of bereavements coupled with a drug-debt meant that a "powder-keg" situation caused him to "crack under pressure".
A lengthy probation report was handed in to the court by counsel, who said that Kearney had got a job as a cleaner in Mountjoy Prison and that his urine analysis was clear.
Mr Justice Hunt adjourned sentencing at the non-jury court to July 30.