Irish man doing 'message for person he feared' caught with guns, ammunition and stolen car

Irish man doing 'message for person he feared' caught with guns, ammunition and stolen car

A Dundalk man who pleaded guilty to possession of firearms, ammunition and a stolen car has been sentenced by the Special Criminal Court to five years in prison.

The court previously heard that Joseph Finnegan (55) told gardai investigating the offences that he was doing a "wee message" and that he was in fear of his life.

Finnegan, of Cullenstown, Readypenny, Dundalk, County Louth, pleaded guilty last June to possession of an 8mm calibre blank-firing pistol at the same address on July 11, 2015. 

He also admitted to possession of seven rounds of ammunition at the same place on the same date. 

Additionally, Mr Finnegan pleaded guilty to two further possession charges, one involving a 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun and the other three rounds of shotgun cartridges, both at the same address and on July 12, 2015.

Last month, he admitted to the possession of a stolen Ford Focus at the same address on July 11, 2015.

Today, Mr Justice Robert Eagar, presiding, with Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain and Judge James Faughnan, read the facts of the case to the court. 

In July, 2015, the court heard, the Special Detective Unit was investigating IRA activity in County Louth, when Detective Inspector Lenehan received information that Finnegan was to be involved in the storage and movement of firearms in Dundalk. 

On July 11, Finnegan was seen driving a Ford Focus, stolen in Malahide in April, 2012, and bearing false registration plates.

Gardai stopped the car and saw a black backpack on the floor in front of the passenger seat and asked him what was in the backpack.

Finnegan said there was a gun.

Searching the bag, the gardai found a semi-automatic pistol and some ammunition.

Following this, gardai searched Finnegan's house, where they found more ammunition, as well as double-barrel shotgun.

During interviews, he told gardai that somebody had asked him to do a "wee message" and that he was in fear of this person. 

Finnegan has no previous convictions.

Mr Justice Eagar sentenced Finnegan to six years in prison, with one year suspended, for the firearms offences, five years for each of the ammunition offences and two years for possession of the stolen Ford Focus.

All sentences are to run concurrently and are backdated to November 7.

Daniel Hickey