Man jailed for robbing guns moves to appeal conviction

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

A man jailed for his role in the robbery of more than 40 firearms six years ago has moved to appeal his conviction.

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 today that more than 40 guns were taken in the robbery.

Counsel for Director of Public Prosecutions, Patrick McCarthy SC, said the absence of the guns was a “significant worry” to the gardaí and became the subject of a major investigation.

Counsel for Freeman, Dominic McGinn SC, moved to appeal his conviction today on the single ground that the onus to prove Freeman wasn't induced into entering a guilty plea rested on the prosecution.

Mr McGinn said there appeared to have been an unhealthy level of contact between the most senior investigating garda in the case, a detective superintendent, and Freeman right up to the evening before Freeman pleaded guilty.

He said there was a series of phone calls and face to face meetings between Freeman and the detective superintendent and that the contact wasn't known to his legal team.

Freeman was being advised by two sets of people, according to Mr McGinn, and he had effectively told his legal team 'I don't care what you say, I'm pleading guilty'.

He submitted that the prosecution should have had to establish to a reasonable standard that Freeman wasn't induced into making the plea by gardaí.

Accordingly the trial judge erred in addressing where the onus of establishing impropriety rested, Mr McGinn submitted.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Patrick McCarthy SC, said there was a tactical decision taken by a clever man, Mr Freeman, having lost three legal arguments on inducement during the trial.

Freeman's guilty plea was freely and willingly made, Mr McCarthy said, and he had benefited from the plea by not being prosecuted with more serious offences.

Mr McCarthy said he would prefer if the contact between the detective superintendent and Freeman did not happen but nothing illegal arose according to the officer's affidavit on which he was not cross examined.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the court would reserve judgment to a date as soon as possible.