Monivea man on firearms and explosives charges walks free

A Galway man facing firearms and explosives charges walked free from the Special Criminal Court yesterday after the prosecution was dropped.

Thomas Coffey (47 ), One Hundred Acres, Monivea, Athenry, was charged last year with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance – ammonium nitrate – at One Hundred Acres, Monivea, on January 26, 2011.

He was also charged with the unlawful possession of a revolver and five rounds of ammunition at the same address on the same date.

His trial was scheduled to begin next October, but yesterday Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, told the court that his instructions were to enter a nolle prosequi regarding the charges, meaning they will not be proceeded with.

It is believed the decision not to proceed with the case against Mr Coffey followed a landmark Supreme Court ruling earlier this year on Garda search warrants.

No reason was given in court for the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions, but it is understood a search warrant issued under the relevant section of the Offences Against the State Act, which was declared un-Constitutional, was part of the prosecution evidence against Mr Coffey.

Section 29 has been routinely used in the past by gardaí to search homes of suspects in terrorist cases.

The Supreme Court ruled that section 29 (1 ) of the Offences Against the State Act of 1939, as inserted by section five of the Criminal Law Act of 1976, was “repugnant” to the Constitution.


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