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30/07/2021

Gunman caught with loaded handgun had previously pointed a loaded shotgun at gardai

Gunman caught with loaded handgun had previously pointed a loaded shotgun at gardai

A gunman who was caught with a loaded handgun by members of the Armed Response Unit had previously pointed a loaded shotgun at gardai and held a taxi driver at gunpoint during an attempted getaway following an armed robbery.

Trevor Byrne (40), of Cappagh Road, Finglas, Dublin 11 faces a minimum of five years in prison having pleaded guilty at the three-judge Special Criminal Court to possession of a loaded 9mm Luger-caliber Radom 35 firearm at a house in Woodford Grove, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on November 15, 2019.

Byrne went on trial at the Central Criminal Court last month but six days into the trial he decided to plead guilty to possession of the handgun and the plea was accepted by the State. 
 
Two charges of possession of ammunition and another of possession of cash that he was reckless towards, or knew to be, the proceeds of crime, will be taken into account by the judges when they pass sentence on December 21 next.

At a sentencing hearing this morning, Detective Superintendent Derek Maguire told prosecuting counsel John Byrne SC that Trevor Byrne has 40 previous convictions. The most relevant occurred in April 2005 when he was convicted of various offences including possession of a loaded double-barrel shotgun, unlawful seizure of vehicles and robbery of an off-licence.

The superintendent said Byrne had robbed an off-licence in Santry and was pursued by gardai. When garda cars managed to block him in he pointed a gun at gardai and got into an unmarked garda car in a bid to escape. He also held a gun to a taxi-driver's head during the pursuit but was eventually stopped and arrested by gardai. He received sentences ranging from two to eight years for those offences and was released in November 2009.

In relation to the offence currently before the court, the superintendent said gardai received information on November 15, 2019 that Byrne had a firearm at a house in Clondalkin. Having obtained a warrant, members of the Armed Response Unit forced entry to the house and found Byrne and another man sitting on a couch in a cabin to the rear of the property.

Byrne did not cooperate or comply with directions when gardai ordered him to get on the ground and he did not answer questions when arrested, detained and interviewed at Clondalkin Garda Station. 

Gardai who searched the house discovered the handgun underneath the couch where Byrne had been sitting. His DNA was subsequently matched to DNA found on the gun and to DNA found on a balaclava and gloves that were on the couch. His fingerprint was also present on a shoebox which contained two further rounds of ammunition that were designed for use in the same handgun. The handgun contained five rounds plus one in the barrel that was ready to be fired. Ballistics experts said the gun and ammunition were in good condition and the gun had been recently cleaned. There is, the superintendent said, no lawful means in Ireland to obtain or possess the handgun and ammunition that were seized.

When Byrne's pockets were checked they contained e3,050 which gardai say is the proceeds of crime and should be forfeit to the State. 

During Byrne's first five interviews he did not respond to questions and during his sixth interview gardai used special provisions under the Criminal Justice Act that allow a court to draw inferences from an accused person's failure to answer certain questions. When questions were put to him he still did not respond, the superintendent said.

John Byrne SC for the State said the minimum sentence for the offence is five years imprisonment and the maximum is 14 years. He said the DPP considers the offence in the middle range and therefore the headline sentence should be set at seven to ten years.

Byrne's defence lawyer Conor Devally SC will outline mitigating factors to the court on December 21 ahead of sentencing. Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Michael Walsh, said he doubted whether "it would be possible to dispute" the headline sentence suggested by the DPP.

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