A cocaine addict who agreed to move “lethal” ammunition and guns for “dangerous people” he owed a €50,000 drug debt to has been jailed.
Stephen Keenan (31) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four counts of unlawful possession of two handguns and bullets at Casement Drive, Finglas, Dublin on October 24 last year.
He also pleaded guilty to stealing a car which was found parked on Casement Drive on the same day. Gardaí found a canister of petrol and a camouflage “ghillie” suit in the car, neither of which had been in the car when it was stolen.
Keenan, of Casement Drive, Finglas, Dublin received suspended sentences in March 2015 after pleading guilty to having an imitation firearm during a robbery of an off-licence in Finglas.
He was still serving this suspended sentence last October 24 when he was caught holding the firearms.
Keenan told Gardaí that he agreed to hold a gun because he had racked up a €50,000 drug debt seven years earlier and was still trying to clear it. He said he still had €5,000 left to pay to “dangerous people”. These people told him to hold the bag with a gun in it for a few days.
He later looked inside the bag and saw there were two handguns and the ammunition. The court heard the guns were in working order and could fire lethal ammunition and that some of the rounds found matched the guns.
Judge Martin Nolan said Keenan’s involvement was clear and he must have known the gun were going to be used to threaten, kill or maim people.
He imposed a sentence of six-and-a-half years, backdated to October 2017 when Keenan went into custody.
He noted that the father-of-two was pressurised into the crimes because of his drug debt and he has made “Herculean efforts” to reform himself but relapsed around the time of the offences.
Michael Bowman SC, defending, said Keenan told Gardaí he was glad he was caught because somebody’s life could be saved.
He said the people he owed money to were “serious people” and he was concerned about his own children if he didn’t service the debt.
Keenan previously worked as a part-time painter and decorator. He had a cocaine addiction for a number of years and racked up the drug debt before his arrest in 2013 for the robbery.
Counsel said Keenan stayed sober and away from drugs for some years and that showed he could be rehabilitated.
Garda William O’Keefe told the court that he was in a Garda car when he saw Keenan walking along Casement Drive with a rucksack. He said Keenan began acting suspiciously and Garda O’Keefe got out to speak to him but Keenan ran off.
He threw the bag away and this was picked up by another Garda while Garda O’Keefe caught up with Keenan and arrested him.
The rucksack contained two handguns, bullets and some class of a smoke-bomb. He also had two car keys, one for the stolen car which was parked in the area.
Keenan told gardaí that he knew he had to transport a gun and that there would be a gun in the bag. Garda O’Keefe said he was satisfied that this was the extent of Keenan’s involvement.
Judge Nolan noted that Keenan’s previous conviction for possession of firearms required the court to impose a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of five years.