Dublin man caught with gun at shopping centre may yet be jailed

CourtsBy Sunday World
Wayne Ellis
Wayne Ellis

A Dublin man given a wholly-suspended sentence for his third offence under the firearms act, must wait to hear whether he will be sent to jail, following an appeal by prosecutors.

Wayne Ellis (34) with an address at Landen Road, Ballyfermot, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of a firearm at Knocklyon Shopping Centre on July 5, 2012.

He was given a wholly-suspended five-year sentence by Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring on May 26, 2014.

The Director of Public Prosecutions have sought a review of Ellis' sentence on grounds that it was "unduly lenient".

Counsel for the DPP, Gerardine Small BL, said that Ellis had two previous convictions under the firearms act and, as such, an actual mandatory minimum sentence of five years had to be imposed.

It was "absolutely mandatory", Ms Small said. 

The sentencing judge was advised of the position, legislation was handed in to her and it was a "fundamental error" given Ellis' previous convictions, Ms Small said.

Ms Small said it was a mid-range offence which would ordinarily attract a sentence of seven to ten years but "the floor" was five years imprisonment given the law.

Counsel for Ellis, Caroline Biggs SC, said she had challenged aspects of the law in the High Court and the High Court's judgment, which found against her arguments, would be appealed.

Ms Biggs said the prosecuting Garda accepted that everything Ellis had done criminally was as a consequence of his drug habit.

However, by the time he came to be sentenced in the Circuit Court, he had "completely rehabilitated" himself and the penal aims of servitude had been achieved.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve judgment.

Ruaidhrí Giblin