Men caught wearing fake beards are jailed for firearm possession

Pair were wearing disguises of hats and glasses when detective found them in stolen van

Two Dublin men have been sentenced to five years in prison for possessing a firearm and ammunition.

Michael Finlay (36) of Maplewood Road, Tallaght, and Dean Byrne (24) of Drumcairn Park, Tallaght were found guilty at the Special Criminal Court last month of the unlawful possession of a 9mm calibre semi-automatic pistol and magazine at Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght on June 5th, 2014.

They were also found guilty of the possession of various rounds of 9mm calibre semi-automatic ammunition at the same address on the same date.

On Friday Detective Inspector Anthony Lenehan, of the Special Detective Unit, summarised the facts of the case.


On the day of the offences, after a briefing about suspected IRA activity involving a stolen Renault Kangoo van, Detective Sergeant Joseph Finnegan drove to Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght.

The detective found two men in the Renault van, both wearing disguises of fake beards, hats and glasses. Finlay was wearing an An Post jacket.

The detective approached the van with his firearm drawn and called to the men to show their hands.

Finlay appeared to have a firearm in his hand and Det Sgt Finnegan ordered him to drop the weapon. Finlay dropped the weapon.

A semi-automatic pistol with a fully-loaded magazine was found on the floor of the van, as well as other loose ammunition in a black hold-all bag.

Later, during interviews at Tallaght garda station, detectives invoked Sections 18, 19 and 19(a) of the Criminal Justice Act, which allow a court to draw inferences from a suspected person’s failure to account for certain matters.

The gardaí asked both Finlay and Byrne to account for the presence of the firearm and ammunition, as well as the stolen van, the fake beard and An Post jacket. Both men made no reply to the questions.

Sentencing the men, Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding with Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Flann Brennan, said that each of the accused had pleaded not guilty but "made clear from the start of the case they weren't going to be opposing any of the evidence".

The judge said that although this was not a plea, some allowance must be given for such behaviour because it shortened the trial.

He also stated that while each of the accused had a “blameless past,” a “worrying aspect” of the case was that the offences were “completely unexplained”.

The court is satisfied the offences come at the lower end of the scale, the judge said.

Finlay’s sentence was backdated to June 5th, 2014, and Byrne’s to May 8th this year.