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Two gunmen for Kinahan gang jailed in separate cases at Special Criminal Court

The presiding judge in one of the cases said the damage done by gun crime could not be ignored.

TWO GUNMEN FOR the organised crime gang have been sentenced today in separate cases at the Special Criminal Court.

Trevor Byrne (40), of Cappagh Road, Finglas, Dublin 11, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. Bernard Fogarty, with an address at Hole in the Wall Road, Donaghmede, Dublin 13 was jailed for five years.

Byrne was found by armed gardaí in a back garden cabin, where a loaded handgun had been stashed. He claimed the gun was for his own protection, as he had been informed by gardaí of a credible threat to his life. He also had just over €3,000 in his pocket when he was arrested, his trial had heard.

Fogarty, a man known to gardaí as being “heavily involved in organised crime”, pleaded guilty to possession of a RAK PM-63 submachine gun at the same address on March 7, 2020.

Sentencing Bernard Fogarty, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the three-judge court was satisfied that the defendant’s conduct was related to “organised criminal activity” and was clearly intentional. He said the damage done by gun crime could not be ignored.

Mr Justice Hunt observed that the firearm was “not in condition for immediate use” but said undoubtedly the weapon was contemplated to be used at a future time.

Having regard to the gravity of the offence, the judge said the maximum sentence was 14 years in prison. The main mitigating factor in his sentence was his early guilty plea, he said.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC, for Fogarty, previously submitted to the non-jury court during the defendant’s sentence hearing that his client’s face had been “slashed” twice in Cloverhill Prison this year and “his difficulties followed wherever he found himself”.

The barrister said the accused, who had experienced difficulty with drugs over an extended period of time, was “easy prey” for others due to his vulnerability.

The court has heard that Fogarty has 40 previous convictions, which include criminal damage, minor assault and burglary.

Mr Justice Hunt also remarked today that there was no evidence that Fogarty’s involvement was “other than the movement of the weapon” for use by another individual at a later date.

The court set the headline sentence at seven years imprisonment. In mitigation, the judge noted that Fogarty had entered a guilty plea and as a result imposed a straight discount of 25 percent from the headline sentence. This resulted in an adjusted sentence of five years and three months, he said.

Mr Justice Hunt, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Michael Walsh, sentenced Fogarty to five years and three months imprisonment with the final three months suspended, backdated to when he went into custody.

Fogarty entered a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and he must undergo supervision from probation services for one year from the date of his release.

‘He just sat there’

Trevor Byrne has 40 previous convictions, the most relevant of which occurred in April 2005 when he was convicted of various offences including possession of a loaded double-barrel shotgun, unlawful seizure of vehicles and robbery of an off-licence.

During this robbery, Byrne pointed a gun at gardaí, got into an unmarked garda car in a bid to escape and also held a gun to a taxi-driver’s head as he was pursued by gardaí. He received sentences ranging from two to eight years for those offences and was released in November 2009.

He had denied the current charges against him and was six days into his trial at the three-judge Special Criminal Court when his barrister, Conor Devally SC, asked for his client to be re-arraigned.

Byrne then pleaded guilty to possession of a loaded 9mm Luger-caliber Radom 35 firearm at a house in Woodford Grove, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 on November 15, 2019. Three other charges of possession of ammunition and €3,050 in cash that he was reckless towards, believed to be, or knew to be the proceeds of crime, were taken into consideration at his sentencing this morning.

The trial heard that the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) raided the house in Woodford Grove at around 11.30pm on November 15 and found Byrne in a cabin to the rear of the property, where he was sitting on a couch alongside another male.

A Detective Garda from the ERU told Mr John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that he pointed his weapon at Trevor Byrne while he was sitting on the couch and shouted “armed gardaí, armed police” before ordering him to the ground, as other gardaí dealt with the second male.

“There was no response at all, he [Trevor Byrne] just sat there looking at me,” the Det Gda said.

The witness said that after two more warnings and no reaction he holstered his weapon, pulled Trevor Byrne from the couch and put him in a face-down position on the ground.

When Byrne was taken to Clondalkin Garda Station he refused to engage with the station jailer and exercised his right to silence when interviewed.

A search of the cabin later revealed a gun underneath the couch that Byrne and the other male had been sitting on. There were five bullets in the magazine and one in the chamber. More ammunition was found during the search and Det Sgt Tom Anderson said that he searched Byrne before placing him into a Garda patrol car and found €3,050 in his tracksuit pocket.

The State was also expected to bring evidence that a DNA profile on the gun matched Byrne’s DNA and that a pair of gloves, a hold-all and a balaclava found in the cabin had DNA matching Byrne’s.

Mr Devally said that Byrne had the gun for his own protection and that he had fled Ireland in 2016 because of a threat to his life.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that 10 years’ imprisonment was an appropriate pre-mitigation headline sentence but gave a 10 per-cent discount for the guilty plea.

Mr Justice Hunt said he could not see a sentence of less than nine years due to it being Byrne’s second offence for possession of a weapon.

Mr Justice Hunt backdated the sentence to November 2019, when Byrne was taken into custody.

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Alison O'Riordan and Paul Neilan