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Judge bans media from naming gun suspects

A suspect is apprehended by gardai at Connolly Station
A suspect is apprehended by gardai at Connolly Station

A JUDGE has imposed a gagging order preventing the news media identifying two people charged with the handover of a loaded gun on a Dublin to Belfast train at Connolly station.

The man, aged 23, and the 20-year-old mother-of-one, both from Dublin’s north inner city, were arrested on Wednesday following an intelligence led operation involving officers from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

Judge Gerard Jones acceded to an application made at Dublin District Court yesterday by defence solicitors Miska Hanahoe and Eoin Lysaght to impose the reporting restrictions out of “safety concerns” for their clients who gardai believe were flights risks and involved in an on-going criminal feud in and outside the jurisdiction.

During a late court sitting, Judge Jones ordered that the facts of the bail hearing could be reported but the defendants could not be identified. 
Refusing bail, Judge Jones said he did not know a more serious offence than someone being caught red-handed with a loaded gun on a train bound for Belfast.

“This gun was there for some reason and maybe some life, maybe or maybe not, was saved by the actions of gardai on this occasion,” he said.

A CZ model 70 semi-automatic pistol, two rounds of 7.65 Browning calibre ammunition and a shotgun cartridge were recovered by gardai on the Dublin to Belfast train on Wednesday. 

The man was approached by gardai on the train while woman, who allegedly handed him the bag containing the gun, was stopped outside Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport later that day, the district court head. 

The two are charged with three counts under the Firearms Act, offences which can result in sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment.

Garda Marguerite Reilly said the woman made no reply when charged on Friday evening. The court heard she told gardai she did know what was in a bag she allegedly handed to the co-accused on the train.

Garda Reilly said the woman had strong links outside the jurisdiction in particular her partner and a relative residing in Northern Ireland, and she has close associates throughout Europe.

She also told gardai she was planning to go to Galway, the defence argued.

However gardai feared she was a flight risk and had her passport with her.

Her solicitor said that his client had been outside Terminal 1 waiting for a bus. Mr Lysaght said she had no flight tickets and needed the passport because she looks very young and “was not someone who could walk in and buy a packet of cigarettes”.

He said she denied knowledge of what was in the bag, had a child living in this jurisdiction and she had no prior criminal convictions.

Det Garda Gary Wood told the court the 23-year-old man had links to Spain, Holland and worldwide and that he was a flight risk. He made no reply when charged.

Det Garda Wood said there was “a likelihood of further serious charges”, adding, “maybe more serious charges”. He said that when apprehended the accused man attempted to kick the bag behind him and tried to abscond.

The defence said there was no evidence of a link to criminal organisations other than the garda’s belief. The judge said he did not accept the man did not know what was in the bag and he noted evidence that he was caught red-handed.

Bail was refused and they were remanded in custody to appear again next week.

Legal aid was granted to the pair who have not yet indicated how they will plead.