Man caught with imitation gun in Portlaoise ‘had been threatened over drugs’

Man caught with imitation gun in Portlaoise ‘had been threatened over drugs’

A Czech national caught with an imitation firearm claimed he had the replica shotgun as he had been threatened over a drug debt.

At last week’s sitting of Portlaoise District Court was Martin Cermak (18), with an address at Hawthorn Way, Esker Hills, Portlaoise, charged with possession of an imitation firearm, at the Ridge Road, Portlaoise.

Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on March 5 this year, a number of 999 calls were made concerning a male walking alongside a road in Portlaoise armed with a firearm.

Witnesses reported that the man was walking towards the Ridge Road and the gardaí attended scene, where they located the accused in possession of a shotgun.

He was approached and told to drop the weapon, which he did, and was arrested.

Sgt Kirby said there was no sinister motive to the incident, with a ballistics report indicating that the item was a realistic imitation firearm, a replica pump action shotgun.

The accused had no previous convictions.

Defence, Mr Barry Fitzgerald admitted that the item could have been viewed as being real, which could have caused alarm.

The accused purchased the replica firearm, which was a pellet gun, in a local shop.

Mr Fitzgerald said that Cermak, a Czech national living in Ireland a number of years, had developed a serious cannabis addiction and ran up a debt, which led to threats being made against him so he bought the gun.

It was foolish, said Mr Fitzgerald, and the accused had cooperated with the gardaí at the scene.

The matter was adjourned to November 8 next for a probation report.

A destruction order was also made by Judge Staines on the gun.