Man jailed for 21 years for gun smuggling


Super Moderator
Staff member
Paul Edward Meehan was today sentenced to 21 years in prison for his part in smuggling guns, ammunition and drugs into Ireland.


Belfast Crown Court 21 year jail sentence

The 36-year-old, originally from Dublin but with an address at The Crescent, Sallins, Co Kildare, was appearing in Belfast Crown Court today.

He spoke only to confirm his name.

As Mr Justice Stephens read out his lengthy judgement, Meehan sat expressionless in the dock.

The court heard the details of a series of meetings Meehan had held with an undercover police officer between February and September 2008.

The police-officer, referred to as Neil, was part of a sting operation involving police from both Northern Ireland and the Republic, as well as The Netherlands and England.

Meehan believed him to be an accomplice who helped him smuggle cigarettes.

As their relationship progressed over months, Meehan moved from smuggling cigarettes to high-grade guns and ammunition and heroin and herbal cannabis.

Belfast Crown Court heard today that the majority of the smuggled firearms and all of the drugs were to be delivered to organised criminals in the Republic.

The weapons cache included Glock pistols, and in his ruling today Mr Justice Stephens noted evidence from the gardaí about the increased use of such pistols in gangland murders and shootings in the Republic since 2005.

Today the court heard how the sting operation against Meehan and his accomplices culminated in a series of arrests on 2 September 2008.

As Meehan was meeting 'Neil' in the Europa Hotel in Belfast, gardaí in Dublin swooped as a consignment of drugs, guns and ammunition from the Netherlands were handed over to a man at the Coachman's Inn on the outskirts of the city.

Then officers from the PSNI moved in and arrested Meehan in the Europa hotel.
Following this, Dutch police arrested four suspects and uncovered a further cache of weapons. Those four individuals are now being prosecuted in the Netherlands.

In imposing the sentence, Mr Justice Stephens noted that Meehan was a violent individual and that there was a high risk of him reoffending.

Belfast Crown court heard that Meehan had been involved in a car accident in 1993 while driving a stolen vehicle, and that as a result he walks with the aid of crutches.

He acknowledged that prison would be a greater imposition on him because of his disability but noted that he was remorseless about his role in importing guns and drugs.

Mr Justice Stephens said that Meehan was not the controlling force in the criminal gang he was involved in, but that he had a significant role in the gang which was based in the Republic.

During one meeting with 'Neil' at the Europa hotel, the court heard that Paul Meehan had phoned a man named Brian to discuss a consignment of cigarettes.

Custodial sentences were handed down for each of the ten charges against Meehan - with the lengthiest sentence of 21 years relating to the firearms offences.

Mr Justice Stephens ruled that the sentences should run concurrently.

Speaking outside the court, three police officers from the Netherlands, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland welcomed the severity of the sentence and said that it sent out a clear message that international organised crime would not be tolerated.