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Man who planned to avenge son's murder jailed on gun charge

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Murder victim Sean Little, whose dad Stephen was jailed for six years

Murder victim Sean Little, whose dad Stephen was jailed for six years

Murder victim Sean Little, whose dad Stephen was jailed for six years

A Dublin man charged over the seizure of a firearm after the murder of his son last year has been jailed for six years by the Special Criminal Court.

Stephen Little (47) told gardaí after his arrest that "had you given me another hour, I would have killed the bastard that killed him".

Little of Kilbarron Avenue, Kilmore, Dublin 5, had pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a Grand Power G9 semi-automatic pistol at Lein Park, Harmonstown, Dublin 5, on September 14, 2019, and was yesterday sentenced to six years by the non-jury court.

Fist-bump

Little's son, Sean Little (22), was found shot dead beside a burning car near Balbriggan off the M1 in Dublin on May 21, 2019.

The non-jury court previously heard that, had Little not made these comments, the case against him would have been weaker and he may not have been charged.

Co-accused Edward McDonnell (56) of Waterside Apartments, New Ross, Co Wexford, was yesterday sentenced to nine years for unlawful possession of the semi-automatic weapon at the same date and location.

The men, who were both remanded in custody before yesterday's hearing, exchanged a fist-bump before sentencing.

Both had been originally charged with having the weapon with intent to endanger life.

The two were jailed for possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances. The court heard during the sentence hearing that a blue Audi parked in Lein Pary had aroused suspicion and gardaí put a surveillance operation in place.

They found a loaded handgun under the passenger seat of the Audi car, which was unlocked, which they made safe and then replaced. The following day McDonnell was forcibly removed from the car.

A number of items, including two baseball caps, two balaclavas and some gloves and a petrol can fell from McDonnell's lap upon arrest. Little tried to drive away in another car but was apprehended.

At yesterday's sentencing, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said the headline sentence for such an offence was 14 years, with five years a minimum.

He said he agreed with Michael Bowman SC, for McDonnell, in assessing the offence to be in the middle range, and said the headline sentence, before mitigation, was 10 years

Regarding Little, Mr Justice Hunt said the accused's motivation was the murder of his son and that it had been accepted that Little was not the man who would pull the trigger.

The judge said Little had no previous convictions, barring a road traffic offence, and there were positive personal testimonials before the court.

The judge said Little had been through personal and medical difficulties, which lessened his culpability, and the court would reduce the headline sentence to eight years.

Motivation

Mr Justice Hunt further discounted the sentence by 25pc on account of Little's early guilty plea. He sentenced him to six years' imprisonment backdated to December 21, 2019, when he was first taken into custody.

Regarding McDonnell, Mr Justice Hunt said that his motivation for possessing the weapon "still remains opaque" and noted that it was unclear whether or not McDonnell was to be a gunman or a driver.

Mr Justice Hunt, taking into account McDonnell's "significant" previous convictions, discounted his sentence by 10pc for his guilty plea, albeit one entered on the fifth day of trial.

He sentenced him to nine years' in jail and backdated the sentence to September 16, 2019, when McDonnell was first taken into custody.