A Czech national caught with an imitation firearm who claimed he had the replica shotgun as he had been threatened over a drug debt has been given the benefit of the probation act.
Martin Cermak (19), Hawthorn Way, Esker Hills, Portlaoise, was charged with possession of an imitation firearm, at the Ridge Road, Portlaoise.
When he first appeared in court in September, Sgt JJ Kirby gave evidence that on March 5 this year, a number of 999 calls were made concerning a male armed with a firearm.
Witnesses reported that the man was walking towards the Ridge Road and the gardaí attended the 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 for a probation report and when the case returned to court last Thursday, Sgt Jason Hughes said that the accused has not come to garda attention since.
Judge Catherine Staines described the offence as an aberration and said it was unlikely the accused would offend again. She applied the probation act, section 1.1.