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Loaded pistol hidden under seat of car 'was only there to endanger life', court hears

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Edward McDonnell pleaded not guilty

Edward McDonnell pleaded not guilty

Edward McDonnell pleaded not guilty

The only use for a loaded pistol found in a car on a Dublin estate was to endanger life, a prosecution barrister told a trial yesterday.

Edward McDonnell (55), of Waterside Apartments, New Ross, Co Wexford, is accused of being in unlawful possession of the semi-automatic Grand Power G9 and having it with intent to endanger life at Lein Park, Harmonstown, in September last year.

The court heard a number of items were seized during the garda operation, including an encrypted phone.

At the non-jury Special Criminal Court, Mr McDonnell pleaded not guilty.

Surveillance

Prosecuting, Sean Gillane SC told the three-judge court a garda surveillance operation covering the Coolock area of north Dublin started on September 11, 2019, under the direction of Detective Inspector Noel Browne of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

Counsel said a Toyota Avensis was seen being driven by Stephen Little and an unknown male in Harmonstown that day at 9.35pm.

Last month, Little (46), of Kilbarron Avenue, Kilmore, Dublin 5, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a Grand Power G9 at Lein Park.

Mr Gillane said that on September 12, Det Insp Browne became concerned a navy-coloured Audi might be used in a criminal operation and a search for it started. The Audi aroused suspicion when it was parked at Lein Park in Harmonstown, said Mr Gillane - it appeared to be falsely registered.

On September 13, gardai decided to search it.

Detective Garda Jonathan O'Leary found a loaded handgun under a seat and made it safe by removing the magazine, said Mr Gillane.

He put the gun back and surveillance continued.

A Toyota Avensis was seen being driven by Little and another person not before the court arriving at Hanover Street East at 3pm on September 14, said Mr Gillane.

Mr McDonnell got out and went toward the Pearse House complex, he said. He returned five minutes later, got back in and was driven off by Mr Little.

The Avensis was seen crossing the Liffey on to the North Strand and going toward Lein Park in Harmonstown.

At this point, the Avensis stopped and parked near the Audi, said Mr Gillane.

There would be evidence, the court heard, that Mr McDonnell got out of the Avensis, approached the Audi and got in.

The court heard Mr McDonnell was removed from the Audi and arrested.

Balaclava

Mr Gillane said a number of items fell to the ground, including two balaclavas, two black caps and two pairs of gloves, he said. The firearm was also recovered.

More items of clothing were on the passenger seat, as well as a red petrol can, he said.

The Avensis was also intercepted after a short pursuit and Little was arrested, along with another man not before the court.

The firearm, magazine and magazine spring were examined, he said.

"The pistol was operational and capable of semi or fully automatic fire," he added.

Mr Gillane said the court would be satisfied the Audi was parked at Lein Park for criminal enterprise and the only use for the firearm was to endanger life.

The trial, expected to last two weeks, resumes today.