PhD student sentenced to six years over gun possession

Ursula Shannon, John McGreal and Colin Brady found guilty earlier this month

Ursula Shannon at the Special Criminal Court today where she was jailed for six years. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Ursula Shannon at the Special Criminal Court today where she was jailed for six years. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 16:16

A Trinity College graduate and three men who were intercepted by armed gardaí outside the premises of a firearms dealer have received sentences ranging from six to seven years for the possession of firearms and ammunition.

Earlier this month Ursula Shannon (30), who is a PhD student, graduate of Trinity College and prominent member of socialist republican group Eirigí, with an address at Inglewood Crescent, Clonsilla and her co-accused John McGreal (37), Thornchase, Palmer Road, Rush, and Colin Brady (24), Ashgrove, Baskin Lane, Kinsealy, were found guilty of the offences by the Special Criminal Court after a short trial.

The non-jury court heard the accused were wearing wigs and disguises when they were intercepted by armed gardaí outside a residential premises in Co Offaly which also doubled as a business for a licensed firearms seller.

Detective Inspector Michael Gibbons told the court that one of the handguns recovered, a Brazilian-made Taurus pistol, was used in a murder in Tallaght in February 2002. He said there was no suggestion that any of the defendants were involved in that offence.

There was also evidence that the ammunition recovered was wrapped up in a baby’s nappy found inside the stolen van in which the defendants were travelling.

CCTV footage of the interception of the stolen van was played to the court, which was invited to infer that the people in the van were there to rob the shop and steal the firearms on the premises.

Shannon, McGreal and Brady had pleaded not guilty to the possession of two handguns and 32 rounds of ammunition at Tullybeg, Rahan, Co Offaly on November 27th, 2012, but had not challenged any of the evidence in the case.

They had pleaded not guilty to the unlawful possession of one 9mm parabellum calibre Taurus PT92 semi-automatic pistol, one magazine suitable for use with the Taurus PT92 pistol, one 9mm parabellum calibre Walther P5 semi-automatic pistol and one ZGJY branded combined stun gun and flashlight.

They had also each pleaded not guilty to the possession of 25 rounds of 9mm ammunition and seven rounds of 9mm ammunition.

John Troy (34), a fourth co-accused of Dunard Avenue, Cabra had pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of the same Taurus pistol, magazine, Walther P5 pistol and one ZGJY branded combined stun gun and flashlight on the same date.

A charge of possession of the same 25 rounds of 9mm ammunition and seven rounds of 9mm ammunition was taken into consideration by the court.

McGreal and Troy were also charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the state styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on November 27th, 2012.

Counsel for the State, Mr Shane Costelloe BL, told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions was entering a “Nolle Prosequi” — in other words not proceeding — with those charges.

Shannon and Brady have no previous convictions but John Troy was sentenced by the Special Criminal Court to four years for IRA membership in 2005. McGreal has five previous convictions for summary offences.