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Fear forced me to be a gun runner, claims taxi driver

A taxi driver who transported guns for organised criminals has been sentenced to three years at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Rowan Martin (46) was seen by detectives throwing a bag containing two handguns over a wooden hoarding. He told gardai he had been asked to transport the guns by a local man and was afraid to say no.

The court heard he had since quit being a taxi driver to act as a full-time carer to his wife who has a serious lung condition.

Martin, of Benmadigan Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of firearms at Slievebloom Road, Drimnagh on June 13, 2008.

Judge Katherine Delahunt noted he had no previous convictions and said the mandatory minimum sentence of five years was not applicable.

However she said people like Martin act as a "barrier" between organised criminals and gardai. She sentenced him to three years with one suspended.

Detective Garda Paul Moody told prosecuting counsel, Monika Leech, he received a tip-off about the movement of firearms in the Drimnagh area.

Shortly afterwards at 10am, Martin was seen driving a green van with his daughter in the passenger seat.

Revolvers

He was stopped by a garda patrol car after they observed him throw a bag over a wooden hoarding.

The bag was recovered and found to contain two .357 calibre revolvers with the serial numbers filed off. Both guns were in "excellent working condition".

Martin was arrested and initially told gardai he had been given the bag by an unidentified man on a motorbike and that he did not know what it contained.

He later admitted a man he knew had called him and asked him to transport the bag. He said he "knew this person and their strengths" and was afraid of what he would do if he refused. He said he was not given any money but was told he would be "sorted out".

Det Gda Moody said Martin had no previous convictions and was not known to gardai.

Michael Bowman, defending, said Martin had been a taxi driver for ten years but had since surrendered his licence to become a carer for his wife who has an "unusual lung condition".

He said he had five girls and had been a working man all his life.

hnews@herald.ie