herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Dad-of-five jailed for three years for having missing man's gun

William (Willie) Maughan
William (Willie) Maughan

A man has been jailed after detectives seized a shotgun owned by a missing man, who it is believed was murdered by one of Ireland's most ruthless gangs.

Father-of-five Sam Power was given a three-year sentence with the final 18 months suspended for possession of a sawn-off shotgun.

Power, of Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to possessing the firearm at the home of his parents-in-law on April 30 last year.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard this week that the gun belonged to Power's brother-in-law, who is a missing person, and he was not using it for unlawful purposes.

Abducted

The Herald can reveal that the weapon was owned by Willie Maughan, who has not been seen since 16 days before Power was caught with his gun and is believed dead.

Maughan and his Latvian girlfriend, Ana Varslavane, are believed to have been abducted and murdered by a gang after they went missing on April 14 last year in Gormanston, Co Meath.

The gang is led by a Traveller who was previously arrested in relation to the murder of Benny Whitehouse.

Mr Whitehouse was shot dead at Clonard Street, Balbriggan, on September 25, 2014 in front of his partner.

Just before the feared gangster was locked up in January, he was hit with a €170,00 bill from the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).

Days before the jailing, the paranoid criminal had built a 12-foot-high wall around his home compound, but did not realise at the time that senior gardai were formulating a plan to have him remanded in custody.

Sources said that, before his being locked up, gardai were becoming increasingly concerned about the activities of his gang, which runs a massive drug-dealing operation.

They are also the chief suspects in an early-morning pipe-bomb attack which led to a van exploding outside a house last November.

This attack was the second explosion in less than two months in Dublin that has been linked to the criminal mob.

The same gang is being investigated for a pipe-bomb attack at the home of Willie Maughan's sister in Rathfarnham last October.

The Herald previously revealed that the gang boss taunted and laughed at gardai as they searched for the missing couple last summer.

At this week's sentencing hearing, Det Sgt Gregory Sheehan said he was in the area for a separate matter on the night and saw Power showing the gun to a group of men in a "joking manner".

Det Sgt Sheehan obtained a search warrant for the house, in which Power lives in the garden in a mobile home with his wife and five children.

Convictions

The sawn-off shotgun was found wrapped in a sheet on top of the radiator in his parents-in-law's bedroom.

Det Gda Sheehan said Power told him the shotgun belonged to his brother-in-law, Willie Maughan, and it was brought to the Maughan family home after his disappearance.

Det Gda Sheehan said Power was aware that Maughan and his girlfriend were missing and the Maughan family were under serious threat.

Power has 82 previous convictions, including for assault, possession of knives and public order offences, and was on bail for possession of stolen property at the time of the offence.

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