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Father-of-five jailed for possession of shotgun owned by missing man

CourtsBy Sunday World
Willie Maughan
Willie Maughan

A father-of-five has been given a three-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended for possession of a sawn-off shotgun.

Sam Power (31) of Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty to possessing the firearm at the home of his parents-in-law on April 30, 2015.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today that the gun belonged to Power’s brother-in-law, who is a missing person, and he was not using the gun for unlawful purposes.

Detective Sergeant Gregory Sheehan said he was in the area for a separate matter on the night and saw Power showing the gun to a group of males in a “joking manner”.

Det Sgt Sheehan obtained a search warrant for the house, in which Power lives in the garden in a mobile home with his wife and five children.

The sawn-off shotgun was found wrapped in a sheet on top of the radiator in his parents’-in-law bedroom.

Det Gda Sheehan said Power told him the shotgun belonged to his brother-in-law William Maughan, who was a missing person at the time, and the gun was brought to the Maughan family home after his disappearance.

Det Gda Sheehan said Power’s “actions were in keeping with the account he gave me” and said he was aware William Maughan and his girlfriend were missing and the Maughan's family were under serious threat.

Power has 82 previous convictions, including for possession of knives, assault and public order offences, and was on bail for possession of stolen property at the time of the offence.

Fearghal Kavanagh SC, defending, said Power showed off the gun in a “joking” way and his actions were “not threatening”.

The court also heard Power’s mother died when he was 15 and had worked in gardening with his uncle who died by suicide.

Judge Sarah Berkeley was also told Power’s wife Sabrina Maughan was born with a heart murmur and was frequently hospitalised.

Mr Kavanagh said a prison sentence would “create significant hardships for himself and his family” and the lack of a male figure in the household “would risk the threat of an upbringing with criminality” for his five children.

He also said the gun was never loaded and there was no evidence Power knew how to use a firearm.

Mr Kavanagh said Power agreed keeping the shotgun was “a foolish thing to do” but may have retained it as his family were under threat.

Martin Joe Maughan, Power’s father-in-law, said he was a ‘decent and hard-working man when he stayed off the drink”.

Mr Maughan said he set up the Scared Heart Football Club in Tallaght in 1991 and Power worked there maintaining the pitches before he was imprisoned.

He said “the door was open to him [Power] again” to take up that work again and said he would act as a mentor to Power.

Judge Berkeley said she took into account Power’s personal circumstances, particularly his missing brother-in-law and ongoing threat to his family, early guilty plea and co-operation with gardai while sentencing.

However, she said the sawn-off shotgun was “a serious weapon which should have been handed over”.