Father (19) was holding a rare machine gun to pay drug debt

By Sonya McLean

A young father who was holding a rare and powerful machine gun in order to pay off a drug debt has been sentenced to five and half years in prison.

Mark Skelly (19) of Bulfin House, Bulfin Road, Inchicore, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of a Mac-10 firearm, ammunition and a silencer at his father’s home in Ballyfermot on May 21, 2019. He has no previous convictions.

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Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Detective Garda Donal Donoghue told Monika Leech BL, prosecuting, that the loaded machine gun was found in a wheelie bin at Skelly’s father’s home along with a silencer.

He said the weapon, which was capable of firing 1,140 rounds of ammunition a minute, was very rare and no longer manufactured.

He said that Skelly had displayed “a level of knowledge” in relation to firearms that Skelly claimed came from playing the computer game “Call of Duty”.

Judge Karen O’Connor suspended the final two years of a five and half year sentence on condition that Skelly enter into a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years, that he remain under supervision of the Probation Service for 12 months and engage with any treatment recommended by them.

Judge O’Connor said Skelly had assisted in the most serious form of criminality and the weapon was armed and ready.

She acknowledged that Skelly was very young at the time, “the positive evidence that he is now drug free”, the support he has from his family and partner and his previous good character.

At a sentence hearing earlier this month, Det Garda Donoghue said that Skelly admitted that he had previously discharged the gun but wouldn’t give the gardai “any specifics”.

Det Garda Donoghue agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, that Skelly’s parents separated when he was young and that both his mother and father had their own difficulties.

He accepted that Skelly left school at 15 years old and began spending a lot of time at home playing video games before he started abusing both cocaine and cannabis.

Det Garda Donoghue said there were “some grounds for optimism” in that Skelly had not come to garda attention since his arrest.

He has a partner and she gave birth last February.

The garda said he was “reasonably confident” that if Skelly stayed drug free and away from his previous contacts, he would not be before the court again.

He accepted that there was no “background intelligence” that Skelly gained his knowledge in relation to the weapon from any other source than this computer game.

Ms Leech said given the nature and quality of the firearm, that it was a high velocity weapon which was loaded and primed for use, the Director of Public Prosecutions put the case at the higher end of the scale.

Mr O’Higgins told Judge O’Connor that his client maintained that he didn’t discharge the gun.

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