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Man found with gun and ammo was doing a “wee message” for people he feared

Man found with gun and ammo was doing a “wee message” for people he feared

A Dundalk man found with a pistol and ammunition told gardai he was doing a "wee message" for some people and that he was in fear of them.

The evidence was heard during the sentence hearing at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin of Joseph Finnegan (55), Cullenstown, Readypenny, Dundalk, County Louth, who last June pleaded guilty to possession of an 8mm calibre blank-firing pistol at the same address on July 11th, 2015. 

He also admitted to possession of seven rounds of ammunition at the same place on the same date. 

Additionally, Mr Finnegan pleaded guilty to two further possession charges, one involving a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun and the other three rounds of shotgun cartridges, both at the same address and on July 12th, 2015.

Last month, he admitted to the possession of a stolen Ford Focus at the same address on July 11th, 2015. 

At today's sentence hearing, Detective Inspector Anthony Lenehan summarized the facts of the case. 

He told prosecuting counsel Anne-Marie Lawlor BL that in July, 2015, the Special Detective Unit was investigating IRA activity in County Louth.

The detective received information that Finnegan was to be involved in the storage and movement of firearms in Dundalk, the court heard. 

On July 11th, on the Ardee Road, Finnegan was seen driving a Ford Focus bearing false registration plates.

Gardai stopped the car and saw a black backpack on the floor in front of the passenger seat and asked the man what was in the backpack.

He said there was a gun.

Searching the bag, the gardai found a semi-automatic pistol and some ammunition.

Following this, Det Insp Lenehan said, gardai searched Finnegan's house, where they found more ammunition, as well as double-barrel shotgun.

During interviews, he told gardai that somebody had asked him to do a "wee message" and that he was "in fear of these people", the court heard. 

Finnegan has no previous convictions.

The court heard that another charge, of possessing a stolen Audi A4, was to be taken into consideration.

Regarding an allegation of IRA membership, the State was entering a nolle prosequi, Ms Lawlor told the court. 

Micheal O'Higgins SC, for Finnegan, asked to judges to be lenient when sentencing his client and to consider in mitigation his early guilty pleas.

Mr Justice Robert Eagar, presiding, with Judge Sinead Ni Chulachain and Judge James Faughnan, remanded Finnegan in custody until November 21st, when he will be sentenced.