Ballybofey man caught with loaded gun and 1,100 bullets

September 25, 2023

A Ballybofey man has appeared in court charged with possessing a loaded gun and over 1,100 rounds of ammunition.

Paul McMenamin was before Letterkenny District Court following an incident that saw two shots fired at him by a sibling after a dispute arose.

After Gardai received a subsequent tip-off, a loaded .22 Smith & Weston handgun was located in a drawer in McMenamin’s bedroom.

The 60-year-old, of Corraffrin, Ballybofey, was charged with illegally possessing the gun. He was also charged with illegally possessing 237 rounds of .23 ammunition, 410 rounds of .22 ammunition and 513 assorted shotgun cartridges.

Sergeant Jim Collins told the court that Garda initially responded to an incident where shots were fired from a shotgun on November 8, 2021.

A crime scene was set up and the now-retired Detective Inspector Pat O’Donnell, who was leading the investigation at the time received information that a weapon was being held at a premises.

During a search, a .22 Smith & Weston gun and a cache of ammunition were found. Paul McMenamin was arrested and made admissions. Sergeant Collins told the court that the defendant was ‘fully co-operative’ when spoken to by Gardai.

Barrister for Paul McMenamin, Mr Sean McGee BL instructed by solicitor Mr Frank Dorrian, said a dispute arose between his client and a brother over a property, which was the family home, was bequeathed to his brother Seamus McMenamin following the death of their mother.

Mr McGee said it had been his client’s understanding that he would be left the house. Their father died shortly after the house was constructed while their mother passed away in 2019.

Mr McGee said the situation ‘came to a head’ on November 8, 2021. He said Paul McMenamin was in a shed when he was allegedly assaulted by Seamus McMenamin.

Mr McGee told the court that Paul McMenamin got a call a short time later advising him that Seamus McMenamin was ‘brandishing a shot gun’.

He subsequently left and went to the home of another brother, Fergus.

As Paul McMenamin was making his way from the property two shots were discharged. “One, he heard go by his ear and one by his head,” Mr McGee said.

A large Garda team was deployed, including the armed response unit. The area was declared a crime scene and Seamus McMenamin surrendered himself at 6pm on November 8, 2021, Mr McGee recalled.

Inspector O’Donnell received information that a gun was in the house and a day later Paul McMenamin made admissions. A search was carried out and a loaded gun, with a round of ammunition in the chamber, was found.

“My own view is that the investigation into the handgun was separate,” Mr McGee said. “It’s not something that was discovered as part of the investigation into Seamus. It was a full 24 hours later by the time the Inspector spoke to my client regarding the handgun. The heat had firmly gone out of it then.”

Mr McGee said that a warrant should have been obtained for the handgun and Paul McMenamin wasn’t cautioned when Inspector O’Donnell spoke to him initially. “That would be another plank in the argument had the matter gone to a hearing,” Mr McGee said. “My client has maintained a certain course without hesitation and that is to his credit and adds value to his plea; he has saved much time and expense.”