A YOUNG man who was convicted of possession of a pipe-bomb at an apartment in Limerick city centre has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Throughout a week-long trial, which was heard earlier this month, Gerard O’Callaghan, aged 27, who has an address at Top Cross, Ardagh had denied possession of an explosive device in suspicious circumstances on January 15, 2013.
However, following several hours of deliberations a jury returned a unanimous verdict.
Limerick Circuit Court was told the the pipe-bomb was found under a bedside locker after gardai searched a ground floor apartment at Upper Cecil Street at around 8.30am having received confidential information that an explosive device was being stored in the flat.
It was the prosecution case that the defendant was observed leaning out of a bed and was seen by gardai rustling with something on the ground.
O’Callaghan’s partner and a young child were in the room at the time and a number of other people were also in the flat when gardai forced their way in, having been granted a search warrant.
The building where the flat was located was immediately evacuated and sealed off until the device was removed by members of the bomb squad and taken to an open area on the Dock Road where it was made safe.
A technical examination of the device, which was around eight inches long, showed it contained wadding and shrapnel and a fuse.
Imposing sentence, Judge Tom O’Donnell said an aggravating factor was that the pipe-bomb was viable and could have caused serious injury or or fatal injury “in the wrong hands”.
However, he noted there was “no immediate hazard” on the day but said it would have been “extremely serious” if the fuse was lit.
He said another aggravating factor was the upheaval caused to neighbouring residents who were evacuated.
He commented that there had been no evidence that O’Callaghan was involved in sinister or subversive activity or that he was involved in feuding in the city.
The judge added that the intentions of the defendant were not clear and that there was no evidence that he was storing the device for criminal elements or that he was involved in the transportation of the device.
The judge noted that O’Callaghan’s long-term partner, who is pregnant with their second child, has stood by him through “thick and thin”.
He imposed a five year prison sentence, suspending the final year for a period of seven years on condition he stays out of trouble following his release.