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Man jailed for his role in the theft of 40 guns has his sentence reduced

Freeman pleaded guilty to the robbery of the firearms in 2009
Freeman pleaded guilty to the robbery of the firearms in 2009

A man jailed for his role in the robbery of more than 40 firearms which lead to a major garda investigation has had his sentence cut by two years on appeal.

Alan Freeman (34), with a last address at Deansrath Grove, Clondalkin and Pearse Park, Tipperary Town, had pleaded guilty at Naas Circuit Criminal Court to theft over his role in a robbery at Carrick on Suir, Tipperary in January 2009.

He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by Judge Gerrard Griffin on Tuesday April 1 2014.

The Court of Appeal heard that more than 40 guns were taken in the robbery. The absence of the guns was a “significant worry” to the gardaí and it became the subject of a major investigation.

Freeman pleaded guilty to theft at an advanced stage of his trial and he lost an appeal against conviction on the single ground that the onus to prove he wasn't induced into entering a guilty plea rested on the prosecution.

The court held that Freeman had been assisted by experienced counsel at the time and it was clear that he was willing to engage in contact with the most senior investigating garda in the case.

Moving to his sentence appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham said Freeman had been subject to a “very unusual” suspended sentence of eight years imposed in respect of a bank robbery, six of which was reactivated on sentencing.

As a result his seven year sentence was to run consectuive to the activated sentence of six years leaving him with a global sentence of 13 years.

Having regard to the gravity of the incident and the criminality involved, Mr Justice Birmingham said the court did not see any error in the figure of 13 years.

However, where the sentences were to run consecutive and were “going to be very long”, it was necessary to have regard to the principle of totality and proportionality.

When Freeman serves this significant sentence it would be better for there to be an incentive not to re-offend, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

In order to provide that incentive, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, suspended two years of the seven year sentence leaving him with an overall sentence of 11 years.

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

When asked if he undertook to be so bound, Freeman nodded and said “I do yes. Thanks.”