NewsCourts

Gran (42) threatened at gunpoint to store firearms at Dublin home

Agreed to let three shotguns and a quantity of ammunition be stored at her home
Agreed to let three shotguns and a quantity of ammunition be stored at her home

A woman who was threatened at gunpoint to hide firearms in her house is to be sentenced later, once the Director of Public Prosecution decides on the seriousness of her offence, a court has heard.

Tracey Deegan (42) told gardaí she had made “a silly mistake and let someone take advantage of her” when she agreed to let three shotguns and a quantity of ammunition be stored at her home in Cherrywood Park, Clondalkin, Dublin.

She pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to unlawfully possessing a 12-gauge Winchester pump action shotgun and a 12-gauge Reno double-barrel shotgun on February 17, 2016.

Garda Kieran O'Neill told Tom Neville BL, prosecuting, that he was granted a search warrant after receiving information that drugs were to be found at Ms Deegan's house.

When Ms Deegan answered the door to gardaí, she said there were no drugs in the house, but that she had a crackpipe in the press and that was it.

When a guard found a shotgun shell in the kitchen, Ms Deegan broke down and said it was her brother's shell, and told gardaí that there were guns in the front room.

Gardaí uncovered three shotguns in good condition in the wardrobe of the front bedroom, along with weighing scales and eight shotgun cartridges.

Ms Deegan told gardaí that she used a certain amount of cocaine herself every two weeks. On arrest, she cooperated fully and said she had been given the firearms and ammunition that afternoon from the person who supplied her with drugs.

“He got hold of me because of the crack; when someone points a gun in your face, it's very hard to say no,” she said.

Ms Deegan said she was threatened with a gun and also in relation to her brother, who allegedly had a drug debt of about €12,000. She said the man told her, “If you do this, I won't do anything to your brother.”

She alleged that the man further told her that he would be around “after dark” to collect the guns and that money would be taken off her brother's bill.

The court heard that when gardaí knocked on the door at 6:45pm, Ms Deegan had been hoping it was the man coming to collect the guns.

Deegan has no previous convictions, and Garda O'Neill said “she was not a person, in fairness to her, who comes to garda attention”.

Judge Karen O'Connor adjourned the case until Friday July 7 to allow the DPP to decide on the scale of seriousness of the offence.

Garda O'Neill agreed with Michael Bowman SC, defending, that the accused woman had been “brutalised in every way imaginable” by a former partner for a long time, and had suffered “physically, emotionally and mentally”.

The guard further agreed that Deegan had testified against this former partner in a manslaughter case and that the man had ended up in custody.

Mr Bowman said that Deegan had “paid a heavy price” for giving evidence, as the man's associates continued to bully, intimidate and brutalise her.

The court heard that one associate of her former partner “treats her how he chooses, comes in and out of her house at any time and threatens her under pain of death”.

Mr Bowman said Ms Deegan lives with her 22-year-old daughter who depends on her and has two granddaughters whom she “absolutely adores”.

He told the court that his client had addressed her long standing difficulties with heroin and crack cocaine in the early 2000s and had qualified and worked as a carer for the elderly.

However, under the stress of pressure from the associates of her former partner, she had relapsed into addiction, but had since made “every effort” to turn her life around.

Letters from her doctor and from the Brookfield Addiction Support Programme said she had responded “remarkably well” to treatment and had met the challenges of opiates addiction with “fortitude and courage”.

“She has worked very hard to address her addiction and is an honest, kind-hearted woman; sometimes too kind-hearted for her own good, and people take advantage of her and bully her,” one letter read.

A probation report described a woman who has battled through adversity and done remarkably well.

Mr Bowman pointed out that there was no suggestion that his client ever intended to use the weapons or even that she would have ever had the capacity to assemble them.