Conman caught with 60 guns in UK gets 9 years
A Dublin fraudster who was caught transporting 60 handguns into the UK from France has been jailed for nine years.
Gun runner Robert Keogh (37) was arrested at Dover Port last August 2, and the weapons, all tightly wrapped in plastic, were found stashed in his Volkswagen Passat.
The 9mm self-loading pistols had been manufactured in Turkey and were found in the car alongside four magazines, latex gloves and Turkish paperwork.
It was the biggest-ever seizure of "lethal barrel" firearms being smuggled into a UK port, according to the country's National Crime Agency (NCA).
The serial conman, who was living in Clonee but is originally from Dublin, was jailed yesterday for nine years at Canterbury Crown Court after being caught smuggling the weapons in for an organised crime gang.
Keogh was due to be paid just under €12,000 for the trip and was known to have gambling debts, the court heard.
He had entered the UK via Holyhead last July 24 and stopped in Hackney, east London, before heading off on his trip.
The court heard that during the stopover in London, Keogh "thought he might be shot if he didn't co-operate and feared for the safety of his family".
Sentencing Keogh, Judge Rupert Lowe said: "One way or another, you decided to earn money by taking part in very high-risk gun smuggling. You were, in essence, a courier."
He said the weapons were designed "for criminals to shoot and threaten people with".
"Many people would have been threatened, and some shot, and perhaps some killed, by criminals using these illegal prohibited weapons," he added.
Keogh, who stood in the dock wearing a cream jumper and black rimmed glasses, thanked the judge as he was sent down.
Speaking after the hearing, Martin Huxley of the NCA said: "This is clearly an organised crime network that's been responsible for this import- ation of firearms into the UK.
"We're extremely pleased and relieved that we've removed 60 firearms that would have potentially been on the streets of the United Kingdom.
"We know that criminals favour handguns because they're easier to conceal on their person."
The NCA added: "These firearms belonged to an organised crime group whose plans were significantly disrupted by their loss. Without intervention, the weapons would have ended up in the criminal marketplace across UK streets to be used in violent crimes by extremely dangerous offenders."
Sources have described Keogh as "somewhat of a soft touch" who was taken advantage of by a crime gang.
The gambler and serial conman previously duped football fans into handing over money for non-existent tickets to Premier League matches, but promised to repay his victims.
Keogh (36) told gardai "I can't apologise enough" when questioned about the scam.
He pleaded guilty at Swords District Court to dishonestly inducing a woman to hand over €270 for two tickets to a Liverpool v Manchester United match on December 8, 2015, at AIB on Dame Street.
He further pleaded guilty to the theft of €170 from a man for a Parnells GAA pass on December 10, 2015, at Tobersool Lane, Balbriggan.
He also pleaded guilty to the theft of €180 from the same victim at the Huntsman pub, Gormanston, on December 12, 2015.
At Dun Laoghaire District Court last September, Keogh admitted six counts of inducing others to hand over cash with the intention of making a gain, on dates between December 2015 and September last year.
Judge Anne Watkin adjourned sentencing to allow Keogh to bring compensation to court, but the victims have not been paid.
At the time, Keogh was serving a 12-month sentence after he admitted similar offences before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in April last year.
Sources previously said gardai were "in no doubt Keogh was groomed and promised all sorts while serving a jail sentence".
"He might be considered as something of a soft touch in the world of organised crime, but there is no doubt this individual has hurt a lot of people."