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guilty plea Brazilian gunmen had the wrong ammo and got lost twice on the way to shooting, court hears

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Ildomar Cabrar Da Silva

Ildomar Cabrar Da Silva

Jefferson Dos Santos

Jefferson Dos Santos

Hugo Henrique Rodrigues

Hugo Henrique Rodrigues

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Ildomar Cabrar Da Silva

ONE of three armed Brazilian nationals arrested in a garda swoop earlier this year said they were planning to shoot at someone's house but "not to murder someone", a court has heard.

The men will be sentenced next month after pleading guilty to possession of a submachine gun, a sawn-off shotgun and ammunition in Co Offaly in May.

Yesterday afternoon Tullamore Circuit Court heard the men had the wrong ammunition for the sawn-off shotgun while a rusted automatic submachine gun seized was later tested by ballistics gardaí and jammed after discharging one round.

GOOGLE

Evidence was also given of an address of significance being inputted into Google maps on one of the men's phones and that one defendant who collected the firearms later got lost twice while en route to the scene.

Ildomar Cabrar Da Silva (29), of no fixed abode, Jefferson Dos Santos (35) of Ballymahon, Co Longford, and Hugo Henrique Rodrigues (23), of the same address in Ballymahon, were all arrested on May 27 last during a garda operation in which the weapons were recovered.

One of the accused, Hugo Henrique Rodrigues, told gardaí during interviews: "The plan was not to murder someone." He also said: "I will be a rat" and has since been placed in protective custody.

He sat in court with four prison officers between him and his co-accused. Prosecutor Garnet Orange SC took Detective Sergeant Caroline Lyng through the facts of the case.

She told the court that gardaí undertook an investigation on May 26 and at 9.10pm observed a silver Volkswagen Passat travel through the M4 toll plaza at Kilcock from the Dublin direction.

A short time later the car was observed at the Apple Green garage at Enfield fuelling up, and at 11.10pm one of the accused, Jefferson Dos Santos, was seen putting fuel into a green plastic container at a service station in Kilbeggan before paying for it.

There were no further sightings of the vehicles until 12.25am the following morning when the Volkswagen was stopped on River Street, Clara with all three men on board.

Jefferson Dos Santos was in the rear of the vehicle and Illdomar Da Silva was the front seat passenger while the car was being driven by Hugo Rodrigues.

Det Sgt Lyng said that all three were wearing plastic gloves and a search of the car led to gardaí discovering a submachine gun, 16 rounds of 9mm ammunition in a magazine, a sawn-off shotgun as well as four cartridges. None of the weapons was loaded, the court heard.

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The senior detective said the PPS submachine gun was sent for analysis with a ballistic specialist describing the weapon as being in a poor condition, rusted and having had the serial number erased deliberately.

A ballistics sergeant also established that the weapon was designed to work semi-automatically and fully automatically, but that it jammed after each shot when tested.

Four 12-gauge shotgun rounds recovered from the car were in very good condition, the court heard, but were not suitable or capable of being discharged from the 20-gauge double barrel shotgun.

Det Sgt Lyng said mobile phones belonging to the defendants were also analysed which included communications between the relevant parties.

She said that an address of significance in the Tullamore area had been entered into Google maps on the phone belonging to Ildomar da Silva.

All three were arrested under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act and interviewed, with dos Santos and da Silva offering gardaí explanations for being in Clara without inculpating themselves.

The court was told that Hugo Rodrigues made admissions during garda interviews and cooperated with investigators.

He initially claimed not to have known what was occurring but later admitted that he knew about "the job" a week in advance. Hugo Rodrigues said he collected the bag containing the guns, but got lost twice on the way to Offaly.

PLAN

He also told gardaí that the "plan was not to murder someone", and that instead they intended to "shoot someone's house and leave the place" before burning their car and going home.

The court heard he also told gardaí that the people involved "are dangerous", adding: "I will be a rat - these people have connections".

Det Sgt Lyng agreed with Niall Flynn BL, for Rodrigues, that his client echoed these fears throughout the interviews. Brendan Grehan SC, also for Rodrigues, said these admissions came at a risk for his client who was now in protective custody.

The court heard Ildomar da Silva has 24 previous convictions in Ireland which include offences for theft and possession of knives.

He has also been the subject of a deportation order since July 2019.

His defence counsel, Seamus Clarke SC, said his client was currently on an enhanced regime in custody.

Jefferson dos Santos came to Ireland to learn English in December 2019. Det Sgt Lyng said he had a flight booked to return back to Brazil the day after the incident.

Pádraig Dwyer SC, defending, said his client is currently aiming to improve his life in custody and is working in the kitchen area on 10-hour days.

Judge Keenan Johnson said the charges before him were serious and the fact that the three men were stopped in a car that contained a submachine gun and a sawn-off shotgun was a "matter of grave concern".

The maximum sentence is 14 years imprisonment with a presumed minimum sentence of five years.

The three accused were remanded in custody and will reappear on December 21 for sentencing.

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