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Man caught with loaded gun was trusted member of gang planning feud hit, court told

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Detectives believe Jake Kearney (pictured) was working for a faction linked to slain drug dealer Sean Little

Detectives believe Jake Kearney (pictured) was working for a faction linked to slain drug dealer Sean Little

Detectives believe Jake Kearney (pictured) was working for a faction linked to slain drug dealer Sean Little

A man caught with a loaded handgun was a "trusted member" of an organised crime gang which was planning an imminent attack on a rival north Dublin faction involved in the Coolock feud, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Jake Kearney (25), of Coolock Drive, Dublin 17, pleaded guilty on May 5 to unlawful possession of a Grandpower semi-automatic pistol at Oscar Traynor Road, Santry, Dublin 9, on 30 October last year.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Tony Hunt noted yesterday that Kearney's mother, whose home was burnt out after his arrest, was being "punished for the crime of her son" in what he described as a "desperate situation".

Alerted

Detective Garda James Doolan, of the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that confidential information had alerted gardai about the handover of a firearm outside the Coachman's Inn on the Swords Road for the purpose being used in a feud between gangs in north Dublin.

Arriving at the scene at 9.10pm, Det Gda Doolan told Ms Grant that he saw a silver Skoda Octavia taxi with three males in the vehicle.

Det Gda Doolan saw the rear passenger walk toward the patrol car and that he identified Kearney as he passed the driver side of their unmarked unit.

The witness said he saw Kearney on his phone and that he disappeared out of sight for a few minutes before returning to speak to the driver of the Octavia.

A Volkswagen Passat then parked in front of the pub and Kearney spoke to the driver before walking back to the Octavia.

Gardai followed the Octavia to Oscar Traynor Road, where they stopped the car and saw a handgun in the footwell behind the driver's seat.

Kearney, who was wearing a pair of latex gloves, was arrested and taken to Ballymun Garda Station.

The gloves and Kearney's mobile phone were seized, along with the handgun, which was found to be functional. Eight 9mm bullets were also found in the handgun's magazine.

"Mr Kearney would have been a trusted member of this organised crime group and the information we received was that the firearm was to be used in an imminent attack against a rival faction," said Det Gda Doolan.

In May, the Herald revealed that the home of Kearney's mother was burnt to the ground in an arson attack on the same day that he was charged with the offences.

"This woman has no involvement in crime but her home was torched in a revenge attack because Kearney had decided to get himself involved in a feud which led to five murders last year," a source said.

Gardai believe they foiled a gangland hit when they arrested Kearney and one of his associates.

Detectives believe Kearney was working for a faction of the feud involved in multiple revenge plots since drug dealer Sean Little (22) was lured to his death near Balbriggan last year.

Aoife O'Halloran BL, defending, said her client had drug difficulties and that he got into criminal activity because he knew members of the group since childhood and they were "close friends".

Counsel said Kearney, who had been living at home, suffered anxiety and depression exacerbated by cannabis use.

Mr Justice Hunt adjourned sentencing at the non-jury court to July 30.