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Judge ‘extremely uneasy’ over dagger case


Judge Devins ‘extremely uneasy’ over army-type dagger case

A District Court judge said there was ‘a lot of simmering murkiness’ about a case in which an older man was allegedly found in possession of an ‘army-type dagger’.
Castlebar District Court heard that on October 9, 2012, Garda John Coen stopped Dr Gerald Stephens’ of Clooncormack, Hollymount for having no insurance. It is alleged that while Garda Coen was talking to Dr Stephens, Dr Stephens took an ‘offensive weapon’ and put it in a briefcase.
Garda Coen told the court that it was an ‘army-type dagger and holder’ and that when asked why he had it in his possession Dr Stephens replied, “for protection”.
Representing himself, Dr Stephens questioned Garda Coen’s evidence and claimed that the knife was only seen by the garda when Dr Stephens put it in a box along with other possessions from the car. Dr Stephens was removing the car’s contents as the car was being seized by the garda for having no insurance.
Judge Mary Devins said she was ‘extremely uneasy about the entire matter’ after she heard that Dr Stephens’ house was searched on September 2 last, with Garda Coen being one of the gardai involved in the search.
Supt Joe Doherty told the court that a warrant was issued for the search in order to locate seven firearms which have been missing since 2009. Supt Doherty said the firearms were legally held but that the Gardaí were required to look at them in order to renew an application for them to be held legally.
Judge Devins told Dr Stephens that if he was prepared to forfeit the knife she would dismiss the case. Dr Stephens declined.
Supt Doherty stated, “You can’t have people going around on public roads with daggers.”
Dr Stephens told Judge Devins he “got caught, but with something I didn’t even know I had”.
Supt Doherty argued the claim stating that Dr Stephens told Garda Coen he had it for self protection.
Dr Stephens concluded by informing the judge that he was prosecuted in 1979 for allegedly importing firearms and though he was convicted in the District Court, the decision was later overturned in a judicial review and Dr Stephens was compensated in the amount of €94,000.
Judge Devins stated she was “extremely uneasy” as it “appears there is a history here” before  adjourning the matter to December 17.

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