A 40-year-old man has been jailed for 10 years by a judge who said he believed the man was involved in organised criminality after a jury convicted him unlawfully possessing a loaded handgun in a car in Cork city last year.
Jonathan O'Sullivan from Barrett's Buildings, Gurranabraher in Cork had denied possession of both the handgun and a single round of ammunition in a parked car at Ardcullen, Hollyhill on Cork's northside on March 23rd, 2020.
A jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last December acquitted O'Sullivan of possessing the single round of ammunition but they unanimously found him guilty of possessing the gun, a Grand Power model GA handgun and he was remanded in custody for sentence yesterday.
Garda Keith Shire of Gurranebraher Garda Station told how they had responded to a report of a dark Audi A4 acting suspiciously by revving its engine in the Ardcullen Estate at about 1.20am on the night in question so they proceeded to the scene where they found the car unoccupied.
He told how he spotted a pistol in the footwell on the driver’s side and when he checked the bonnet of the car, he found it was warm and had been running quite recently so he requested the Armed Support Unit to attend at the scene and examine the gun.
Garda Shire said he also checked the registration number of the Audi with Garda colleagues and was told it belonged to a Toyota Yaris. It was later found that the chassis number had been scratched off the engine of the Audi, said he.
Garda Annmarie Fitzgerald told how she saw O'Sullivan further down the road and spoke to him and he appeared to be quite nervous and was quite evasive in his answers as he first said he was visiting a man in the area but then said he was visiting a woman but could not give her address.
Garda Shire said that when O'Sullivan was searched, gardaí found a single key in his pocket and this opened the Audi so Garda Keith Mills from the ASU opened the door and made the gun safe after finding one round in the weapon but not in the breach.
When questioned by gardaí about what they found in the car, O’Sullivan admitted that he knew there was a jerry can of petrol in the vehicle and admitted that he knew that “it wasn’t for fun, like” but he denied ever knowing anything about the loaded gun on the floor.
Defence counsel Siobhán Lankford SC pleading for leniency for O’Sullivan said that while he had been convicted of possessing the handgun, he had claimed that he was being paid €500 to simply bring the car from Boyce’s Street to Ardcullen and leave it there.
"There was no evidence to suggest he was going to be involved in the next step," said Ms Lankford, pointing out that O'Sullivan had not been convicted by the jury of the second charge of possessing the ammunition also found in the car.
However Judge Sean O Donnabhain pointed out that while there was nothing to suggest O'Sullivan was involved in the next step, the reality was that "there would be no next step without him" being willing to deliver the car to the estate at a time when tensions were high in the area over a feud.
He said that O’Sullivan was caught with the key to the car a short distance away. The car had been fitted with false plates and he believed that bringing the car from Boyce’s Street to Ardcullen and leaving it there with the handgun and jerry can of petrol was all part of a criminal enterprise.
“I regard it as extremely sinister and serious ... this smacks of organised criminality and organised criminality of this kind can only survive when people like O’Sullivan are willing to give of themselves in engaging in vital and necessary steps.”
Judge O Donnabhain said that he accepted that O'Sullivan was not the organiser of the entire enterprise but having watched him throughout the trial and again today at the sentencing hearing, he hadn't seen him show "a scintilla of remorse".
Noting that O’Sullivan had a total of 62 previous convictions, Judge O’Donnabhain said he believed the appropriate sentence was one of ten years and he backdated the sentence to March 24th, 2020 when O’Sullivan first went into custody in connection with the incident.