DNA evidence links Kildare man to revolver and Ford Focus car with 'secret compartment' for ammunition

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DNA evidence links Kildare man to revolver and Ford Focus car with "secret compartment" for ammunition

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DNA evidence links a Kildare man to both a revolver found inside a blood-stained bag and a Ford Focus car that had a "secret compartment" for ammunition, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Sean Ruth (29), with an address at Blacktrench, Rathangan, Co Kildare is charged with unlawful possession of a .38 Special Calibre “Rossi” revolver at a place unknown within the State between January 1, 2016 and January 24, 2017, both dates inclusive.

Mr Ruth is also charged with unlawful possession of a 9mm calibre round of ammunition on the same occasion.  

The accused stood up when arraigned before the three judges of the non-jury court this morning and pleaded not (NOT) guilty when the two counts were put to him.

In his opening address, prosecuting counsel Paul Burns SC said that gardai from the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau searched a premises at Greenogue Business Park, Grants Drive, Rathcoole, Co Dublin on January 24, 2017.

Two men had been seen leaving the premises and driving away in a transit van shortly before this and it was intercepted by gardai, said Mr Burns, adding that both the van and its occupants were later searched.

 The barrister further stated that the occupants of the vehicle were Jonathan Harding and another man. When gardai entered the premises at the industrial estate they found a third man, James Walsh.

Jonathan Harding (45) of McNeill Court, Sallins, Co Kildare, and James Walsh (33), with an address at Neilstown Drive, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 both previously pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to the possession of nine revolvers, four pistols, a sub-machine gun, an assault rifle and various ammunition magazines at the unit in Greenogue Business Park on January 24, 2017. 

In January 2018, Harding was sentenced to ten years in prison with one year suspended and Walsh was sentenced to nine years in prison with one year suspended. 

There will be evidence in this trial, the court heard, that gardai secured the warehouse and individuals before they carried out a search of the premises where a considerable number of firearms were found including nine revolvers, four semi-automatic pistols, a submachine gun, an assault rifle as well as 1,235 rounds of assorted ammunition.

“There was quite a substantial arsenal present on the premises,” remarked Mr Burns.

The lawyer said the court would hear that amongst the firearms recovered was a Rossi revolver, which was in good condition and it was found inside a blood-stained plastic bag. This bag was found in the upstairs of the premises and it also contained a Glock automatic pistol and various calibre ammunition.

Counsel said the revolver and the plastic bag were sent to Forensic Science Ireland and swabbed for DNA purposes.

The court heard further evidence will be that another blood-stained plastic bag was found downstairs in the warehouse and it contained a disposable plastic glove. A 9mm calibre round of ammunition was found inside the glove and it was not a suitable ammunition for the revolver, indicated Mr Burns.

The court will hear evidence, the lawyer said, that other relevant items found inside the premises was a Ford Focus car which had blood-staining on the inside of the passenger door as well as a radio transmitter. These items were all forensically examined.

Counsel said Mr Ruth was arrested by gardai at the Amber Springs Hotel on May 7, 2017 and the Audi car which he was driving on the day was searched. Several items including a number of mobile phones were removed from it.

Mr Ruth was detained at Clondalkin Garda Station where he was photographed, fingerprinted and DNA buccal swabs were taken from him.

Evidence will be heard that the DNA profile generated from Mr Ruth's buccal swabs matched the DNA recovered from the revolver and the plastic bag in which it was found, he said.

Mr Ruth’s DNA profile also matched the profile generated from the glove inside the second plastic bag.

“The DNA from the disposable glove which contained the round of ammunition matched the blood-staining inside the Ford Focus which matched the accused,” remarked Mr Burns, adding that swabs taken from the radio also matched Mr Ruth’s DNA.

The court will finally hear evidence, counsel said, that the Ford Focus car was searched and a secret compartment was found inside it containing ammunition.

The prosecution’s case is that the evidence in this trial including DNA evidence will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Ruth had a revolver and ammunition in his possession for an unlawful purpose, said the barrister.

The court heard that other evidence will establish that Mr Ruth was an associate of the two men who left the premises in the transit van as well as the other man found by gardai inside the warehouse on the day.

In conclusion, Mr Burns said that Mr Ruth was connected with a Pajero van which had been at Greenogue Business Park on the day before the search was carried out and telephone evidence will establish that he was in the vicinity of the warehouse on many occasions and in contact with other individuals.

“These circumstances are such that the court can outrule that this was an unfortunate coincidence,” remarked Mr Burns.

Another part of the prosecution case will be interviews conducted with Mr Ruth where inference provisions were invoked.

 “I submit on hearing all the evidence in the case, the court will be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused,” he concluded.

The trial resumes tomorrow in front of Mr Justice Paul Coffey, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh.