DPP v Harford

 
FREE EXCERPT

[2015] IECA 8

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Finlay Geoghegan J., Peart J, Hogan J

CCA265-13

THE PEOPLE (AT THE SUIT OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS)
RESPONDENT
AND
KARL HARFORD
APPELLANT

Crime & sentencing – Sentencing – Explosive substances – Possession of – Appeal against sentence

Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan
JUDGMENT of the Court delivered by Mr. Justice Gerard Hogan on 28th January 2015
1

The applicant pleaded guilty before the Circuit Court on 19th July 2013 to a single court of possession of a explosive substance contrary to s. 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 (as amended)(‘the 1883 Act’). The sentencing judge imposed a sentence of eight years imprisonment with the final two years suspended. The present appeal is against the severity of the sentence as so imposed.

2

At the conclusion of the hearing the Court announced that the appeal would be allowed, with the reasons to be given later. The reasons for that decision are now contained in this judgment.

Background facts

3

The background to the present appeal is as follows: Mr. Harford was a front seat passenger in a vehicle stopped by Gardaí at a routine checkpoint in Ballyfermot, Dublin 10, on 5th November 2010. The Gardaí proceeded to conduct a search of the vehicle pursuant to the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. As a result, a glass jar with a wick was discovered in the passenger footwell where Mr. Harford had been sitting. On forensic examination the jar was found to have potassium nitrate and potassium perchlorate. The Garda evidence at the sentencing hearing was that this jar represented a form of a viable blast incendiary device.

4

Following this discovery the applicant was abusive to Gardaí and had to be restrained. He was then arrested. He originally denied all knowledge of this matter. There was, moreover, no forensic evidence to link him with the incendiary device. There was, however, a strong smell of petrol from the device in the car. A trial date was originally obtained, but the applicant later pleaded guilty in advance of the trial. The applicant has one hundred and forty previous convictions. While these convictions are mainly for public order offences, they also include convictions for possession of knives and drugs. The applicant was just nineteen at the time of the offence. The sentencing judge took account of the help which the applicant ultimately gave to the Gardaí and the fact that...

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