herald

Thursday 21 November 2019

'I saw accused drop bag with loaded pistol and ammo', garda tells court

Paul Norton arrives at court yesterday where he was remanded in custody
Paul Norton arrives at court yesterday where he was remanded in custody

A Dublin man was seen dropping a "fully-loaded" handgun in a park as he ran from gardai, it has been alleged.

A court was told Paul Norton (31) was being chased following a car crash when he was seen discarding a bag containing the Beretta and 31 rounds of ammunition before escaping.

Mr Norton, who was arrested a week later and appeared at Dublin District Court on firearms charges, has insisted it was not him and it is a case of mistaken identity.

Judge John Cheatle refused to grant him bail and adjourned the case for the directions of the DPP.

Mr Norton, from Cromcastle Court, Coolock, is charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition last October 5.

Detective Garda Jason Flynn told Dublin District Court the accused made no reply to either charge after caution at Coolock Garda Station.

Objecting to bail, he said a Volkswagen Passat came to a halt following a collision at Greencastle Road after 9pm on October 5.

Det Gda Flynn was on duty with Garda Keith Cassidy and they both recognised the driver who got out of the Passat as Paul Norton.

Det Gda Flynn said he knew Mr Norton, who looked in the windscreen of the garda car.

The accused ran in the direction of Stardust Memorial Park and Gda Flynn pursued him on foot, he continued.

He observed a firearm fall from Mr Norton's person. It was in a bag and was found to be a fully-loaded Beretta with one round of ammunition in the breech.

Ammunition

There were 15 rounds of 9mm ammunition in the magazine and 15 more in a small plastic bag, all wrapped in a larger bag, Det Gda Flynn said.

Applying for bail, defence solicitor Amanda Connolly said the accused would say it was a case of mistaken identity and the driver was "not him".

In cross-examination, Det Gda Flynn said they had been trying to jam in the driver's door of the Passat and the driver was no more than two metres away when he recognised him as Mr Norton.

"I was so sure it was Paul Norton that I screamed three to four times, 'Paul Norton, get on the ground, armed gardai'," he said.

Asked if he fired a warning shot, he said there was no such thing in Ireland.

The court heard there had been two other men who ran from the car as well as the driver.

"It is 110pc not a case of mistaken identity," Det Gda Flynn said.

"I observed Paul Norton lose his footing and the package fell from his person. Whether he dropped it or threw it or it dropped out of his pocket, I can't say," Det Gda Flynn said.

Ms Connolly said Mr Norton was not arrested until a week later at an apartment at Spencer Dock, Dublin 1, where his partner and their young child lived.

She said the garda case was focused solely on recognition evidence, and there was no CCTV or forensic evidence corroborating this.

It was "not enough to deny him his liberty", she said.

Judge Cheatle remanded the accused in custody, to appear at Cloverhill District Court on October 22.

He granted free legal aid.

Mr Norton fist-bumped a family member before being led away.

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