Dublin man appears in British court on firearms charge

Thomas Kavanagh (51) accused of having illegal stun gun disguised as torch at his home

An Irish man charged with having an illegal stun gun disguised as a torch has appeared in court after his arrest at Birmingham airport.

Thomas Kavanagh was detained after landing on Saturday, as part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

The married father-of-six had just returned from a family holiday in Mexico with his wife and children, prosecutor Diane MacKriel told North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

NCA officers, supported by colleagues from An Garda Síochána and Staffordshire Police, searched his home address on Saturday, recovering a combination torch and stun gun which is illegal under UK law.


Kavanagh, who runs a car dealership and has lived in the UK for more than 15 years, was charged with possession of a prohibited item under Section 5 of the Firearms Act, and appeared in court for the first time on Monday.

The 51-year-old, wearing glasses, a black V-neck sweater and white shirt, and flanked by two security officers, stood in the secure dock during a hearing lasting 57 minutes.

The item was discovered on top of a cupboard in the kitchen, the court heard.

Kavanagh, of Sutton Road, Mile Oak, Tamworth, Staffordshire, spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, his Irish nationality, and that he understood proceedings.

Following the hearing, attended by his wife, family members, and his accountant, Kavanagh was remanded in custody to appear at Stafford Crown Court on Tuesday.

Claire Holden, chairman of the bench, told Kavanagh: “You must now go to the crown court, before a judge, who will listen to the prosecution and your lawyer, and make a decision as to what happens next.

“You must go into custody, overnight, and a decision will be made.”

The NCA had said a 20-year-old man arrested alongside Kavanagh at Birmingham Airport has been released under investigation.

A third man, aged 19, was also arrested and released under investigation.

Kavanagh's brother-in-law was David Byrne, the 34-year-old man shot dead in an attack in the Regency Hotel, Dublin, three years ago.

Kavanagh is married to Byrne’s sister, who has no involvement in crime.