Two people found in illegal possession of an imitation firearm have appeared at Kilkenny District Court.
The imitation firearm was found after a car they were travelling in was seized by gardaí for motoring offences.
Both people were also charged with being in illegal possession of drugs.
Guilty pleas were entered to the motoring and drug offences, but the firearms offence was contested in court.
On January 18, 2020, gardaí were conducting a checkpoint on Ossory Bridge, on the Kilkenny Ring Road, when, at 6.10pm, they stopped a car being driven by Artjoms Dulenkovs, 28 Seville Lawns, Kilkenny.
There was no tax or insurance disc on display, Mr Dulenkovs had a learner permit and no insurance.
The vehicle was seized.
Gardaí became suspicious while talking to Mr Dulenkovs and searched the car. They found LSD.
Marcelina Woszczyna, 178 Robertshill, Kilkenny, was a passenger in the car. She also pleaded guilty to the possession of LSD. She told gardaí she had the drug at her home.
Solicitor Ed Hughes said his client had been very honest with the gardaí. Ms Woszczyna led the gardaí to her house and Mr Dulenkovs said they both owned the drugs. They are both in their early 20s. They co-operated fully with the gardaí.
Mr Hughes said Mr Dulenkovs had bought the car, from a friend, four months before. He has asked his friend on numerous occasions to send on the log book but it never happened. He didn’t drive the car often but on this day they had decided to go for a picnic in Graignamanagh and foolishly took the car.
Garda Darragh Dineen gave evidence that when the car was stopped and subsequently seized Ms Woszczyna was also searched. In her handbag he found the imitation firearm.
It was tested at the Garda Ballistics Section, at Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park, and found to be an imitation firearm.
Ms Woszczyna told gardaí she had taken the firearm from the car when it was seized.
An application to have the charges struck out was denied.
Mr Dulenkovs told the court that when the car was seized gardaí told them to take any loose items of their property from the car. He took some keys and loose change, Ms Woszczyna took items from the glove box.
Mr Dulenkovs said he was cleaning the car after he bought it when he found the imitation firearm in the spare wheel well. He said it looked like an Airsoft gun and he put it in the glove box because he thought the owner would retrieve it. It had been there ever since he found it. He didn’t know if it looked real because, he told the court, he didn’t know enough about guns.
Mr Dulenkovs was asked what else was found in his car and he said a hatchet, weighing scales, black latex gloves and a knife.
He said he didn’t know at the time it was illegal to have an imitation weapon.
Ms Woszczyna gave evidence that she did not know the gun was in the glove box before they were stopped by the gardaí. When told to take items from the car she ‘just put everything into my bag’. She had never seen it before.
Mr Hughes argued there was scope within the legislation for the defendants to have a reasonable excuse for being in possession of the imitation firearm.
Judge Geraldine Carthy said she was satisfied to convict the defendants on the firearms charge.
Mr Dulenkovs was fined €250 and disqualified from driving for two years for not having insurance. The other road matters were taken into consideration.
Both Mr Dulenkovs and Ms Woszczyna were each told to make a donation of €500 to the Court Poor Box on the charge of being in illegal possession of drugs.
In relation to the firearms possession charge Judge Carthy adjourned the case until September to allow probation reports to be prepared.
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