Louth man sentenced to eight years for explosives possession

CourtsBy Sunday World
Dublin Courts of Criminal Justice.jpg
Dublin Courts of Criminal Justice.jpg

A Louth man who pleaded guilty to possession of explosive devices including an adapted beer keg has been sentenced to eight years in prison, with two years suspended, at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin today.

David Gallagher (38), of Marley Court, Drogheda, Co Louth, pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive substance on May 25th, 2014 at Kilcurry, Co Louth.

The charge stated that Mr Gallagher had in his possession PETN (Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate) and RDX (cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine), an adapted 50 litre beer keg, 50kgs of ammonium nitrate home-made explosive, an improvised detonation cord, improvised steel booster tube and improvised time and power unit.

Earlier this year, another man was tried and convicted of the same offence. Gareth Mulley (45), with an address at Ashling Park, Dundalk Co Louth was sentenced to ten years in prison at the Special Criminal Court in July. 

Detective Sergeant Padraig Boyce, of the Special Detective Unit, gave evidence today at Mr Gallagher's sentence hearing.

He told the court that, on May 25th last year, Mr Gallagher and Mr Mulley were observed by detectives driving in Mr Gallagher's white transit van to St Bridget's Shrine near Kilcurry, Co Louth, near the border with Northern Ireland. 

Mr Mulley drove the van away from the carpark and later returned. 

Detectives observed an object being transferred from Mr Gallagher's van to the boot of a red Volkswagen Passat. 

When the Passat was searched by gardai, a "keg bomb" was found, the court heard. 

The bomb was "armed, completed and ready to be moved" and "would have caused serious injury or death if somebody was standing in its vicinity," Det Sgt Boyce further stated. 

Det Sgt Boyce agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that Mr Gallagher "has very little history in this line of business" and that his prospects for rehabilitation are "reasonable."

He also agreed with Mr O'Higgins that Mr Gallagher's role in the offence was "lesser" than Mr Mulley's. 

Mr Gallagher, who also gave evidence from the witness box, told the three judges that he had no intentions of getting involved again with republican military activity.

Mr O'Higgins said, "To publicly make such a declaration in offences of this kind is a significant one. I'd ask the court to take account of it."

"It's a strong indication of prospects for rehabilitation," he said.

Mr O'Higgins asked the court for "whatever leniency" it could give. 

The court also heard that Mr Gallagher has applied to be transferred from Portlaoise Prison to Castlerea Prison.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, said that the bomb was "a device capable of causing serious damage and injury."

"It is a lethal weapon," he said. 

The court further heard that, in deciding an appropriate sentence, the three judges took into account Mr Gallagher's lack of previous convictions of any significance, that his role was accepted by gardai as lesser than that of Mr Mulley's, and also what Mr Justice Butler referred to as Mr Gallagher's "credible promise" to not be involved in military republicanism in the future.

"His declaration is backed up by his application to be transferred from Portlaoise Prison to Castlerea Prison," Mr Justice Butler said. 

Mr Gallagher's sentence was backdated to August 20th last year, with two years suspended for a period of two years. 

By Daniel Hickey