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A judge has imposed a gagging order preventing identification of two people charged with having a loaded gun on a Dublin to Belfast train at Connolly station.
A 23-year-old man and a 20-year-old mother of one, both from Dublin’s north inner city, were arrested on Wednesday following an intelligence-led operation involving officers from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
Judge Gerard Jones granted an application, made at Dublin District Court on Friday, by defence solicitors Miska Hanahoe and Eoin Lysaght, to impose reporting restrictions out of “safety concerns” for the two accused, whom gardaí say they believe will flee the country rather than face trial and are involved in an ongoing criminal feud in and outside the jurisdiction.
During a late court sitting, the judge ordered that the facts of the bail hearing could be reported but the defendants could not be identified. Refusing bail, he said he did not know a more serious offence than someone being caught red-handed with a loaded gun on a train bound for Belfast.
“This gun was there for some reason and maybe some life, maybe or maybe not, was saved by the actions of gardaí on this occasion,” he said.
The semi-automatic pistol, a CZ model 70, loaded with two rounds of 7.65 Browning calibre ammunition, and also a shotgun cartridge, were recovered on the Belfast-bound train.
The man was approached by gardaí on the train while the woman, who allegedly handed him the bag containing the gun, was stopped outside Terminal 1 at Dublin Airport later that day, the district court head.
The two are charged with three counts under the Firearms Act, offences which carry sentences of up to 14 years.
Garda Marguerite Reilly said the woman made no reply when charged on Friday evening. The court heard she told gardaí she did know what was in a bag she allegedly handed to the co-accused on the train.
Garda Reilly said the woman had strong links outside the jurisdiction, in particular with her partner and a relative residing in Northern Ireland, and she has close associates throughout Europe.
She also told gardaí she was planning to go to Galway, the defence argued. However gardaí feared she was a flight risk and had her passport with her.
Her solicitor said that his client had been outside Terminal 1 waiting for a bus. Mr Lysaght said she had no flight tickets and needed the passport because she looks very young and “was not someone who could walk in and buy a packet of cigarettes”.
He said she denied knowledge of what was in the bag, had a child living in this jurisdiction and she had no prior criminal convictions.
Det Garda Gary Wood told the court the 23-year-old man had links to Spain, the Netherlands and other countries and that he was a flight risk.
He made no reply when charged. Det Garda Wood said there was “a likelihood of further serious charges”, adding, “maybe more serious charges”. He said that when apprehended the accused man attempted to kick the bag behind him and tried to abscond.
The defence said there was no evidence of a link to criminal organisations other than the garda’s belief. The judge said he did not accept the man did not know what was in the bag and he noted evidence that he was caught red-handed.
Bail was refused and they were remanded in custody to appear again next week. Legal aid was granted .