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Charges Two men allegedly found with loaded gun in bag outside busy shopping centre, court hears

Robert O’Connor (33) and Luke Yates (20) both appeared in Dublin District Court this evening

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Criminal Courts of Justice

Criminal Courts of Justice

Criminal Courts of Justice

TWO men were found with a loaded handgun in a bag in the middle of the day outside a busy Dublin shopping centre after an off-duty garda spotted them running from a car, it has been alleged.

One of the men was carrying a plastic bag with the pistol that had a bullet stuck in the barrel after previously failing to fire, gardai said.

Robert O’Connor (33) and Luke Yates (20) both appeared in Dublin District Court this evening charged with possession of a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistol and ammunition in suspicious circumstances in Finglas on Wednesday.

Mr Yates, of Maplewood Avenue, Tallaght was refused bail by Judge David McHugh. Mr O’Connor, of Snowdrop Walk, Darndale, did not make a bail application and both men were remanded in custody to Cloverhill District Court, for the directions of the DPP.

Garda Karen Donnelly said Luke Yates made no reply to the charges after caution at Finglas garda station today.

Objecting to bail, she cited the seriousness of the charges and the nature and strength of the proposed evidence.

She said an off-duty garda was driving on the N2 in Finglas at 12pm on October 13 when a black Volkswagen Golf came to his notice.

Two male occupants abandoned the car on the road and ran towards Charlestown Shopping Centre. Their faces were covered and a plastic shopping bag had been taken from the vehicle.

The off duty garda kept them under observation until assistance arrived and both men were stopped at Charlestown Place.

They were searched and Robert O’Connor had the plastic bag which contained the loaded handgun, as well as gloves and Covid masks, the garda alleged.

Witness statements had been taken and CCTV footage had been retrieved from a number of locations.

Gda Donnelly said Mr Yates was at all times with the co-accused who was carrying the bag. A preliminary ballistic examination showed it was a firearm and that an attempt had been made to discharge it, with a bullet found in it that had failed to discharge.

It was alleged that Mr Yates was "caught red-handed" because he was in the company of Mr O’Connor.

Applying for bail, Mr Yates’ barrister Garrett Casey said his client was presumed innocent and could be in custody until 2023 awaiting trial if refused bail.

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Mr Yates was a “very young man” and the firearm was allegedly found in the possession of the co-accused who was over 30, Mr Casey said.

Gda Donnelly said both men had been in the vehicle.

Mr Casey said Mr Yates could put up cash bail and abide by conditions.

Judge McHugh said Mr Yates was presumed innocent but he considered the proposed evidence to be strong and said the gardai had made out a case for refusal of bail. He remanded Mr Yates in custody to October 19.

Garda Sean Kelly said Mr O’Connor also made no reply to the charges after caution. Solicitor Sandra Frayne said she was not making a bail application on Mr O’Connor’s behalf at this time.

He was also remanded in custody, to appear in Cloverhill District Court on the same date.

Neither accused has entered pleas to the charges.

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