Murderer The General once wanted dead nabbed with €10k worth of sunglasses

Joseph Magee outside court yesterday
Joseph Magee outside court yesterday

A former paramilitary man who served two years of a life sentence for the murder of a British soldier has been spared jail for possessing €10,000 worth of stolen designer sunglasses in Dublin.

Joseph Magee (50) claimed he found the sunglasses, which cost €150 each, in a park.

Gardai believe he was holding onto them for a third party, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Magee, of Marsfield Avenue, Clongriffin, Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of 55 pairs of stolen Maui Jim sunglasses at his home on April 2, 2015.

Magee is a former member of the INLA. He received his first conviction in Northern Ireland when he was 12 years old and by aged 17 was serving a three-year term for firearm possession.

He was jailed for three years here in 2001 for another count of possession of firearms.

In 1992 he took part in the murder of Sergeant Michael Newman, who was shot dead by the INLA outside a recruitment office in Derby, England.

The British government attempted to extradite Magee to face trial but the request was denied by the Irish High Court. He was later arrested by British authorities while attending a funeral in Northern Ireland.

The court heard he was convicted of murder in 2004 but released under the Good Friday Agreement after two years.

Magee also fell out with the infamous criminal Martin 'The General' Cahill. A flat in Dublin had been earmarked for Magee in 1994 but Cahill had wanted the flat for a family member and rather than let it fall into the hands of Magee he burned it out.

This led to a tense standoff between Cahill and the INLA and when Cahill was shot dead just months later the INLA tried to take credit for his murder. It has been reported that Cahill had been plotting to murder Magee on the day he himself was killed.

His defence submitted that the Irish and British governments had taken a certain attitude towards him under the 1998 agreement.

He asked the court to take a similar non-custodial position, which would allow Magee to keep his social housing.

Judge Melanie Greally said if Magee was to be jailed he would lose his house which would hinder his efforts to reform.

She also accepted that he wasn't the final beneficiary from the sunglasses and imposed a two-year suspended sentence.

Via and Sunday World reporters