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Limerick man caught with an improvised firearm on two separate occasions

Limerick man caught with an improvised firearm on two separate occasions

A Limerick man jailed for possessing an improvised firearm on two separate occasions has had his prison sentence increased by two years following an appeal by prosecutors.

Gordon Ryan (22), of Greenfields, Rosbrien, pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court to possession of an imitation firearm on November 7 2012 and to the same offence on June 23 2013 at locations in Limerick City.

He was sentenced to two consecutive three-year terms of imprisonment with the final 12 months suspended by Mr Justice Carroll Moran on May 30 2014.

The Court of Appeal increased Ryan's second three-year sentence today by two years on foot of an undue leniency application by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Speaking on behalf of the three-judge court, Mr Justice George Birmingham said gardaí were on patrol in the Hyde Park area of Limerick on November 7 2012 when Ryan was seen emerging from a house.

He was stopped, searched and found to be in possession of two steel pipes. They were designed and in affect functioned as an improvised firearm, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

When Ryan was arrested he admitted he knew what the device was, how it worked and that he had paid €150 euro for it, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

The judge said Ryan was on bail and subject to a curfew for this incident when, in the early hours of June 23 2013, a shot was discharged injuring a companion of Ryan in the head and shoulder with pellets.

The gardaí subsequently found a similar improvised shotgun in a nearby house. There was a shotgun cartridge in one of the two pipes, the judge said.

Ryan claimed the discharge was an accident. The injured party did not provide a victim impact report and was always likely to be an uncooperative witness, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

The court heard he has 41 previous convictions for possession of knives and unauthorised taking of a vehicle among others.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the second offence involved the actual discharge of a firearm which caused injuries to a person and this offence was committed while Ryan was on bail for the first offence.

In the view of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said, there could be no basis for taking less than five years imprisonment as a starting point for imposing sentence on the second offence. “Indeed a higher sentence might well be justified”.

Accordingly, the Court substituted a sentence of five years for the original three year sentence imposed on Ryan for the second offence.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentencing judge appeared anxious to leave some light at the end of the tunnel for Ryan when he suspended the final 12 months of the second three year term and the Court of Appeal took the same approach.

“Providing for an element of suspension provides an incentive to stay out of trouble,” the judge said.

Accordingly, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, gave Ryan an aggregate sentence of eight years with the final 12 months suspended.

He was required to enter into his own bond of €100 to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for the suspended portion of the sentence.

When asked if he undertook to be so bound, Ryan said “yes”.