Man with links to Cornelius Price for possessing semi-automatic pistols from 1940s sentenced to seven years, fails appeal of sentence

A man linked to convicted criminal Cornelius Price has failed an appeal against his conviction for possessing a World War II-era sub-machine gun found during a Garda search near Price’s home in Meath.

Tiffen Gibbons (58) of Rockley House, Richardstown, Gormanston, Ko Meath, denied the allegation of possessing a 9mm Makarov PM-63 RAK submachine pistol on or around January 15, 2020, in Richardstown, County. He was convicted in May 2021 by a jury at the Trim Circuit Court, which found him not guilty of possessing ammunition on the same date and place.

In Gibbons’ trial, prosecutor Carl Hanaho Beale told the court that two members of the Garda Armed Response Unit were on patrol in the area that night. As they drove down a lane, they met Gibbons, who lived in a mobile home at Rockley House, who was walking in the opposite direction at 8.45 p.m.

Gardai searched Gibbons and then searched the area. About two hours later, Gardai found a glass jar containing a sub-machine gun and ammunition in a black bin bag in a ditch.

The weapon was dated 1945 to the court and was coated in a thick lubricant to prevent corrosion. The gun was serviceable but two discharged bullets were blocking the barrel and there was no evidence that it had been recently discharged.

A spy Garda stated that it was capable of both semi-automatic and fully automatic fire once the weapon’s replacement barrel was fitted.

The court heard that Gibbons had married Price’s aunt, but the relationship broke down while Gibbons lived on Price’s land in Gormanstown.

At a previous Court of Appeal meeting, the Garnett Orange SC for Gibbons stated that his application to quash the sentence was an “unusual one”, including questioning the jury’s decision in terms of being “logically inconsistent”. .

Mr Orange also said the question would be whether the jury fully understood his role in relation to the evidence before him.

Mr. Orange said his client was living in a mobile home that was in an area used by many new-age commuters. Mr Orange said the gun in a glass jar and 12 rounds of ammunition were found in the same bag, while Gardai had identified his client as a suspect based on hair glued to the lubricant on the pistol.

Mr Orange said it was “illogical” for the jury to convict his client of possessing the pistol because of the “significant” weight given to the presence of hair when it was in the same location as the ammunition. which Gibbons was acquitted.

Mr Orange said it was also “incongruous” that his client would be convicted because of the presence of a single hair, which was a “movable object” that could fall out at any time.

In his submission, Mr Orange described the decision as “distorted under the circumstances and should be annulled”.

Mr. Hanahoe for the Director of Public Prosecutions told the court that the jury was advised by the trial judge on the difference between the two cases and was fully aware of that difference when asking questions of a charge, not a trial. About the other. , He said the prosecution did not open or close on DNA evidence alone and that the jury was given a trial with a “very high” bar.

In the Court of Appeals, Ms. Justice Isobel Kennedy said the court was dismissing the appeal after finding that, while DNA from the hair located on the gun was “central” to a circumstantial case, it was not “deterministic in itself” evidence. was.

Ms. Justice Kennedy said the jury “explicitly followed the trial judge’s instructions to consider each count separately and concluded that there was evidence of guilt for the condition necessary in relation to the firearm but not in relation to the ammunition.” I was not like that”.

She said the trial judge, Judge Martina Baxter, provided the jury with a “comprehensive” summary of the evidence in the case. Regarding hair being a movable object that could attach itself to a gun without Gibbons’ knowledge, Ms. Justice Kennedy said, “These cases of evidence were solely for the jury to accept or reject as it deems appropriate.” was”.

“On no analysis can it be said that the judgment was not supported by any evidence or that the judgment was against all the evidence in the trial,” the judge said.

Ms Justice Kennedy said the trial judge “directed the jury carefully and precisely” and that there was no evidence to say that the jury “ignored” any of the directions. The judge described the panel as “a jury assessing the entire evidence and carefully following the directions of the trial judge”.

“The verdict was not equivalent to an improbable view of the evidence, but one that the jury, on the evidence, could properly conclude. The fact remains that the jury did not return a guilty verdict on the count of possession of ammunition under the circumstances , but did so with respect to the other count, not making the decision inconsistent. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed,” said Ms. Justice Kennedy.