'grave error' | 

Carlow man charged over possession of AR15 assault rifle conversion kit at Dublin Airport

Registered firearms dealer Damien Graham (53) made a "serious and grave error", a judge has heard

Damien Graham

Damien Graham

Tom Tuite

A registered firearms dealer made a "serious and grave error" bringing back an "essential component" for a prohibited submachine gun after attending a weapons show in the United States, a judge has heard.

Damien Graham, 53, of Ballynagall, Ballickmoyler, Carlow, and Patrick O'Mahony Jr, 53, of Ballyrameen, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry appeared at Dublin District Court today, having been charged earlier with Firearms Act offences.

Mr Graham has two charges for possessing a conversion kit for an AR15 assault rifle, including a bolt and chamber, at Terminal 2, Dublin Airporton November 28, 2021.

He is also accused of unlawfully having a bolt from a Sterling submachine gun at the same date and location.

Co-defendant Mr O'Mahony has a single charge for possessing a bolt from a Browning machine gun at Terminal 2 on November 28, 2021.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed summary disposal of the case at the district court level.

Damien Graham

Outlining the allegations, Garda Sharon Breen told Judge Treasa Kelly that customs officers searched Mr Graham's check-in luggage and found suspected firearms parts, which were sent for ballistic examination.

She explained that the conversion kit was to make the rifle calibre smaller because larger calibre ammunition was much more expensive, and it was a common practice. However, the registered firearms dealer had not obtained an importation licence for those parts.

She agreed with defence solicitor Matthew Kenny that gardai did not suspect anything suspicious.

The judge heard that the Sterling submachine gun bolt was an essential part, not a firearm in its entirety.

Garda Breen said the accused was a registered firearms dealer allowing him certain semi-automatic or handguns, however, not machine guns.

Mr Kenny said his client was offering a guilty plea and added that it was an oversight.

He had also met gardai by appointment and answered all questions.

The garda accepted the guilty plea was of assistance.

Mr Graham had an automotive tool firm and a second business as a restricted firearms dealer. The solicitor said his client ought to have known better but made a "serious and grave error" while returning from a gun show in Florida.

The prosecution had brought him considerable anxiety and embarrassment.

The offences can carry a €5,000 fine or up to twelve months imprisonment at the district court level. Mr Kenny implored the court to leave Mr Graham without a recorded conviction and added that his client was in a position to make a donation.

After a recess, the judge questioned the garda further about the submachine gun component and was told that although Mr Graham was a registered firearm dealer, he still could not have a licence for that type of weapon.

The garda reiterated, however, that the accused had an essential component but not the firearm in its entirety.

Judge Kelly said Mr Graham's restricted firearm licence "did not include anything as serious as a submachine gun", which she thought was used just by the army.

She refused jurisdiction for the case to be heard at district court level and granted an adjournment until July 7 for directions from the DPP.

Co-defendant Mr O'Mahony has a single charge for possessing a bolt from a Browning machine gun at Terminal 2 on November 28, 2021. He is yet to indicate a plea.

His case was adjourned until July 4 to consider the disclosure of prosecution evidence with his solicitor.

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