Father-of-four Wayne Lynch (39), of Trinity Gardens, Drogheda, said he started transporting firearms and storing drugs for the gang after building up a €10,000 cocaine debt.
The former bread delivery driver appeared at Trim Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to possessing a 7.65 Browning calibre Zoraki Model 2906 semi-automatic pistol at an unknown location in Slane, Co Meath on November 11, 2019.
Lynch is already serving a separate sentence for possession of firearms, ammunition and possession of drugs for sale or supply for the same gang.
He was working for the gang at the height of the feud when there were several gun attacks and murders linked to the mob war.
The anti-Maguire faction was led by a Drogheda criminal who is currently based abroad and facing serious feud-related charges before the courts. Other members of the anti-Maguire faction included notorious gangland hitman Robbie Lawlor, who was shot dead in Belfast in 2020.
Detective Garda Brian Kierans of Drogheda Garda Station said that on November 11, 2019, a member of the Coast Guard discovered three Browning semi-automatic pistols in a holdall at the Irish Coast Guard Station, Horse Lane, Drogheda.
Lynch’s DNA was subsequently found on one of the weapons and he was arrested and interviewed in relation to the firearm.
Detective Garda Kierans agreed with prosecution barrister Carl Hanahoe that Lynch was “extremely forthcoming about his involvement” with the firearm.
“He accrued significant drug debt and as a consequence of that he was persuaded upon to deliver the item in question to a location in Slane. He was asked to do it on two separate occasions,” Mr Hanahoe said.
Lynch was previously sentenced to four years with 18 months suspended after he was caught with two firearms at Lidl car park on Main Street in Tallaght on July 19, 2019. Gardai had targeted Lynch after receiving intelligence that he was transporting guns.
Gardai also found more than €35,000 of cannabis herb when they searched Lynch’s home.
He has six previous convictions, including a conviction for possession of drugs for sale or supply dating back to 2004.
Lynch used his cover as a bread delivery driver to transport weapons for the anti-Maguire faction.
When he was questioned about the firearm found at the coastguard station in November 2019, he told gardai that he delivered it to a location in Slane in June 2019, the month before he was caught with the firearms in Tallaght.
When questioned by gardai about why he delivered the firearm to Slane, he said: “I owed serious amounts of money for cocaine and had no way of paying them back. I didn’t want them to come to my home and smash me up. They made me do it.”
He told gardai he owed the gang €10,000 and they said they would take €1,000 off his debt for transporting the firearms.
The court heard he had a chronic cocaine habit and was co-operative with gardai in all aspects except for identifying the people he was working for.
Det Garda Kierans agreed that Lynch could be fairly described as a “gilly”.
He is the second person to be prosecuted in relation to the firearms found at the Coast Guard station.
Former part time fireman and Irish Coast Guard volunteer Andrew O’Brien (40) received a four year suspended sentence in 2020 after pleading guilty to possessing the weapons at the station in November 2019.
O’Brien, of Rathmullen Park, Drogheda, was caught on CCTV placing the weapons there.
He later admitted to gardai he used drugs socially and while initially denied storing the weapons, he later made full admissions and claimed he was pressured into storing them.
One of his friends was installing decking at the time of Keith Branigan’s murder at Clogherhead caravan park as part of the feud in 2019.
Branigan was murdered by the Maguire side of the feud and O’Brien said, after his murder, he was contacted by members of the anti-Maguire faction on Snapchat about his friend who was installing decking.
He said he met with gang members to vouch for his friend and when he met them, they asked him to hold a bag containing the firearms. A man and a woman were arrested by gardai in relation to the Branigan murder last week but were both later released without charge. The murder remains unsolved.
Defence counsel James B Dwyer SC said Lynch was a father-of-four and grandfather-of-one who dramatically increased his cocaine use after his father’s death in March 2019 and “quickly amassed significant debt”.
He said he no longer took drugs and was transferred from Mountjoy to Shelton Abbey open prison as he was considered a model prisoner on enhanced status. He had to be transferred back to Mountjoy after being charged over the Slane firearm as Shelton Abbey doesn’t house prisoners on remand. He said his client has said his time inside had given him “a chance to pause and grow”.
He handed in a number of letters to court, including one from a potential employer who said he would give Lynch a job when he was released.
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He said Lynch pleaded guilty at an early stage and co-operated with gardai.
“It was a role he put himself in and a role he described as a ‘fish out of water in a nightmare of his own creation’.”
Judge Martina Baxter acknowledged that Lynch had made great progress.
Lynch was due for release from prison for the Tallaght firearms in August this year but is now awaiting sentence for the weapon found in Drogheda.
Judge Baxter adjourned the case until July 6.