Gardaí found thousands of rounds of ammunition, and a rifle that had been modified so it could fire like machine gun, when they searched a property in county Limerick, Kilmallock Court heard.
A vast array of ammunition and guns were discovered as well as an army helmet, gunpowder, night vision scopes, crossbows and arrow heads when gardaí searched the property of David O’Dea in the Kilfinane district on June 20, 2011.
Mr O’Dea operated a gun club.
Gardaí said they also discovered a licensed Sig Sauer pistol loaded with a 10 round magazine, when it should be restricted to only five, in Mr O’Dea’s bedroom.
During an application by the State, under the Police Property Act, to retain the items, Detective Garda David O’Leary, Ballistics Department, Garda Headquarters, Dublin, gave evidence.
He said that after obtaining a search warrant, gardaí raided Mr O’Dea’s house and found “firearms, pistols, a shotgun, and a large quantity of ammunition and other items”.
“I came across a number of areas of concern regarding these items,” he told Judge Mary Larkin.
He said gardaí found two “aluminium receivers” that “had been modified” to change a civilian version of a military rifle, also found during the search, into a machine gun.
The detective said the modification was “to render such a rifle to be capable of fully automatic fire.”
“Essentially it turns it into a machine gun.
“The possession of a fully automatic firearm is prohibited by a EU Directive in all EU member states,” Det Garda O’Leary said.
He added: “It is my belief, the only purpose of these two receivers was to convert this firearm to make it fully operational.”
Solicitor Sean Acton, representing Mr O’Dea, told the court that the DPP had directed that Mr O’Dea “not be prosecuted”.
“This is a man who operated a gun club. He is not a one-man army,” said Mr Acton.
Detective O’Leary told Judge Larkin he was concerned that Mr O’Dea, aged 48, had “firearms loaded in the house”.
“They should only be loaded when ready to shoot on an authorised range,” said Det Garda O’Leary.
He said a 9mm parabellum Sig Sauer pistol had an incorrect serial number as a new one was engraved over the original serial number.
“The true one had been removed and a new serial number had been engraved.
“I made inquiries with both serial numbers sold by a German gun dealer.
“The true serial number has never been registered or licensed in this country...or in any other jurisdiction either,” added Det Garda O’Leary.
Judge Larkin asked is there a gun missing to be told yes.
“We are unaware where this is,” said Det Garda O’Leary.
Solicitor, Sean Acton said it was “absurd” to suggest that Mr O’Dea had modified the gun as he would have been effectively giving potential evidence against himself to gardaí.
“It must have been done in Germany,” said Mr Acton
Detective Garda O’Leary said he was concerned about a quantity of ammunition “that did not bear any relation to any of the firearms Mr O’Dea was licensed for”.
He was also “concerned” about a .22 inch calibre RSS Air Rifle found during the search of Mr O’Dea’s home: “It is a firearm under the Firearms Act and requires that a license which it didn’t have.”
Mr Acton agreed that Mr O’Dea did not have a license for the air rifle. Two licensed “non functional” crossbows were also found during the search.
Mr O’Dea and his wife both said from the body of the court that a gun Det Garda O’Leary said was found in a bedroom was in a gun safe.
“No. The only one in the gun safe was a replica firearm designed to look like a genuine firearm,” replied Det Garda O’Leary.
The state’s application was that they retain all the weapons and ammunition.
Mr Acton said that in all matters that require a licence they are sent to a gun dealer until a licence is got, or if not the gun dealer sells them.
Mr Acton contended they should be sent to a gun dealer.
“So he [Mr O’Dea] can either regularise his position or recoup some of the enormous cost of these weapons. I couldn’t find any case law on the matter,” said Mr Acton.
Judge Larkin said: “It’s all very interesting and I’m going to think about it.”
She adjourned the application to April 25 to allow the State provide a written submission as to why they should continue to keep the items in their possession.