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File photo Shutterstock/Nic Neufeld

Gun enthusiast found with 'ammunition factory' of bullet heads, cartridges and gunpowder

Gavin Blanchfield was given a six-year suspended sentence today.

A GUN ENTHUSIAST found with “an ammunition factory” of bullet heads, cartridges, gunpowder and primers has been told by a sentencing judge that avoiding prison was a “close run thing”.

Gavin Blanchfield (40) was given a six-year suspended sentence today after “good police work” revealed he had been “selling untraceable ammunition to third parties” on the internet.

Judge Martin Nolan accepted Blanchfield‘s explanation that he had extensive contacts in the gun-owning community and was planning to sell to those parties to use in a lawful way. He said it seemed that Blanchfield did not have a “sinister purpose in mind”, such as selling to criminal forces.

Blanchfield, of Castletymon Court, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to eight counts of possession of ammunition, bullet heads, cartridges, gunpowder and primers without holding the correct firearm certification at his home in Tallaght on 20 July 2019.

Sentencing him today, Judge Nolan said: “This court is not often surprised, but I am genuinely surprised how any person could involve themselves in this kind of misbehaviour.”

He told Blanchfield the good mitigation in the case and his lack of previous convictions was what had saved him from going to prison. He noted Blanchfield had also lost “a good position”.

Judge Nolan imposed a six-year sentence which he suspended in full. He told Blanchfield his decision not to imprison him had been a “close run thing”. He ordered the forfeiture and destruction of all the items.

Garda Josh Doran told the court that gardaí became aware of a forum on that Blanchfield was involved in. Over one hundred pages of messages were reviewed by gardai. These messages contained products for sale and information on how to obtain a licence.

Gardaí obtained a search warrant and searched Blanchfield’s home, where they found “an ammunition factory”.

Doran told the court that firearms were found. Blanchfield holds certificates for the firearms but did not have the required licence for the ammunition recovered. A total of 9.99kg worth of gunpowder and equipment to manufacture bullets were also seized.

Search warrant

A search warrant was also granted for a gun club where Blanchfield was a member. A black box was handed over by the manager, which also contained ammunition.

Doran agreed with Oisín Clarke BL, defending, that his client is an active member of a gun club and that he was providing legitimate, knowledgeable information on the forum.

The garda agreed with counsel that is a public forum, not an encrypted hidden forum and that the firearms found were all legally held by Blanchfield.

Clarke said his client was a hardworking man who has worked every day of his life since he finished school. He said his client would no longer be able to hold a gun licence, and his hobby has now been taken away from him.

Counsel said Blanchfield had made a big mistake and will never darken the door of the courts again, with Doran stating that he believed it would be highly unlikely for Blanchfield to ever be before the court again.

Clarke said Blanchfield was not a criminal in the true sense of the word and that he has lost his corporate job since this case has come to light. He has carried out training courses and is now back in employment and providing for his family.

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Claire Henry and Fiona Ferguson