Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tom Tuite

A registered firearms dealer made a “serious and grave error” bringing back an “essential component” for a prohibited submachine gun after attending a weapons show in the United States, a judge has heard.

Damien Graham (53), of Ballynagall, Ballickmoyler, Carlow, and Patrick O’Mahony Jnr (53), of Ballyrameen, Castlemaine, Co Kerry, appeared at Dublin District Court on Tuesday, having been charged earlier with offences under the Firearms Act.

Mr Graham has two charges for possessing a conversion kit for an AR15 assault rifle, including a bolt and chamber, at Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 on November 28th, 2021. He is also accused of unlawfully having a bolt from a Sterling submachine gun at the same date and location.

Co-defendant Mr O’Mahony has a single charge for possessing a bolt from a Browning machine gun at Terminal 2 on November 28th, 2021.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed summary disposal of the case at the district court level.

Outlining the allegations, Garda Sharon Breen told Judge Treasa Kelly that customs officers searched Mr Graham’s check-in luggage and found suspected firearms parts, which were sent for ballistic examination.

She explained that the conversion kit was to make the rifle calibre smaller because larger calibre ammunition was much more expensive, adding it was a common practice. However, the registered firearms dealer had not obtained an importation licence for those parts.

She agreed with defence solicitor Matthew Kenny that gardaí did not suspect anything suspicious.

The judge heard the Sterling submachine gun bolt was an essential part, not a firearm in its entirety.

Garda Breen said the accused was a registered firearms dealer, allowing him certain semi-automatic or handguns, however, not machine guns.

Mr Kenny said his client was offering a guilty plea and added that it was an oversight. He had also met gardaí by appointment and answered all questions, the court heard.

The garda accepted the guilty plea was of assistance.

‘Grave error’

Mr Graham had an automotive tool firm and a second business as a restricted firearms dealer. The solicitor said his client ought to have known better but made a “serious and grave error” while returning from a gun show in Florida.

The prosecution had brought him considerable anxiety and embarrassment.

The offences can carry a €5,000 fine or up to 12 months imprisonment at the District Court-level. Mr Kenny implored the court to leave Mr Graham without a recorded conviction, adding his client was in a position to make a donation.

After a recess, the judge questioned the garda further about the submachine gun component and was told that although Mr Graham was a registered firearm dealer, he still could not have a licence for that type of weapon.

The garda reiterated, however, that the accused had an essential component but not the firearm in its entirety.

Judge Kelly said Mr Graham’s restricted firearm licence “did not include anything as serious as a submachine gun”, which she thought was only used by the army.

She refused jurisdiction for the case to be heard at the District Court and granted an adjournment until July 7th for directions from the DPP.

Co-defendant Mr O’Mahony has a single charge for possessing a bolt from a Browning machine gun at Terminal 2 on November 28th, 2021. He is yet to indicate a plea.

His case was adjourned until July 4th to consider the disclosure of prosecution evidence with his solicitor.

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