‘Habitual criminal’ sentenced to five years in prison for stealing shotgun in Aughnacliffe

Judge issues warning to public that witnesses in case are not to be intimidated in any way

Longford Circuit Court

Longford Circuit Court

A man who was found guilty of a number of offences under the Firearms and Theft acts following a two day trial at Longford Circuit Court last week was sentenced to five years in prison during a sentence hearing this afternoon.

The defendant was also disqualified from driving for 25 years after pleading guilty to driving without insurance on August 10, 2017.

John Paul Conway (39), 40 Cartron Breac, Longford appeared before Judge Keenan Johnson charged with possession of a semi automatic shotgun; possession of ammunition; theft of the gun, theft of ammunition; theft of a baseball cap; theft of the key of a caddy van; unlawful taking of an MPV without the consent of the owner - all of which were the property of Philip Mulligan; unlawful possession of a semi automatic shotgun not for lawful purpose and possession of ammunition not for lawful purpose at Forthill, Aughnacliffe, Co Longford on August 10, 2017.

Passing judgement in the case before him this afternoon, Judge Johnson said that on the date in question Philip Mulligan had parked his van outside his home when he “rather foolishly” put his firearm into the vehicle with cartridges, a baseball cap and his van keys, and then went back into his house to have a cup of tea.

“Mr Mulligan has learned his lesson and now realises his responsibilities when carrying a firearms licence,” the Judge continued, before pointing out that the evidence in the case was primarily based on that which was given to the court by Annamae Mahon, who as she looked out the window of an upstairs bedroom where she was feeding her baby, saw the defendant leaving the van with the shotgun in his hand.  

“Shortly after Mr Conway came back into the estate in a Honda Civic for which he had no insurance and was disqualified from driving.

“He was then discovered with the keys to Mr Mulligan’s van in his hands.”

Meanwhile, the Judge pointed out that the defendant was subsequently taken to Granard Garda Station where “he was in no fit state to be interviewed”.   

“Later he acknowledged that he had purchased the car two days prior, was in the vicinity of Forthill and had taken heroin the day before,” added Judge Johnson.

“The theft of the firearm is the most serious of all the offences; the accused has a very bad record and is a habitual criminal since he was 19 years of age.

“It is tragic that someone at his stage in life has reached this point because of drugs - he has a chronic drug problem and this is the source of his offending.  

“He is a bit of a scourge and while temptation was clearly put in his way, I do accept that there was no premeditation and that he was not in his right mind when he did this; he appeared to be intoxicated and in a dazed state when he got out of the car.”

The Judge subsequently handed down a five year prison sentence suspending the last two years on the grounds the defendant enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behavior for a period of 10 years.  

Mr Conway was also ordered to engage with the Probation Service and remain drug and alcohol free.  

The Judge also warned that witnesses in the case were not to be intimidated in any way.  

“I want the message to go out loud and clear that nobody is to threaten or intimidate those witnesses in any way,” Judge Johnson concluded. 

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