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Unlicensed gun taken from ‘eccentric’ with a grudge

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Westport sheep farmer who unlawfully held firearm had threatened to kill Garda


A Westport man who ‘conned’ his way into getting possession of a firearm from a gun dealer was described by a Garda chief as not being fit to ever hold a gun license.
Superintendent Mick Murray told Westport District Court that John Burns of Lanmore, Liscarney, Westport ‘outwitted’ a gun dealer to obtain the gun but warned the court that Burns was not a suitable man to hold a gun license as he had previously threatened to kill Murray, when he was an inspector, and would regularly ring Westport Garda Station and ask to speak to ‘the tinker guard’, a member of the station who he had several disagreements with. He had also threatened the previous Westport superintendent, Pat Doyle, the court heard.
Rory O’Connor, solicitor for Burns, said his client was an eccentric and would always speak his mind and that the state were reading more into the threats than they should.
“He has a grudge against the Gardaí which doesn’t endear himself to them but if I had a penny for every time in recent months that I said bankers should be put up against the wall and shot, then I shouldn’t receive a license either,” he told the court.
He added that Burns, who is 61 years old, has sheep who have been bothered recently and that was his reason for needing the gun. He had made contact with a man in Sligo to take a proficiency course in the use of the gun in order to obtain a license, Mr O’Connor added.
Supt Murray said he couldn’t envisage any situation in which a Garda would grant Burns a license. The court also heard that the armed Regional Support Unit were called once it became apparent that Burns had an unlicensed gun but the diligent work of Garda Michael Treacy led to him retrieving the gun from Burns without a need for the RSU.
Burns was told by Judge Mary Devins that if he paid €250 to the Mayo Roscommon Hospice by October 20, the charge of unlawful possession would be dismissed under the Probation Act.