By Fiachra Gallagher
A man who twice fired a shotgun at his partner’s car following an argument has been jailed for three years.
Before producing the shotgun, Joseph Smith (36) was seen “roaring” at his then-ex-girlfriend outside of her mother’s home and a physical altercation ensued while the woman held her young child.
Smith, of Waterville Terrace, Blanchardstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances on April 22, 2019.
At a hearing on Monday, Detective Garda Shane McCartan told Philipp Rahn BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, gardai travelled to a property on Whitechapel Road, Blanchardstown, after receiving reports of a firearm being discharged at the address.
On arrival, gardai found the accused man’s partner in a “distressed” state.
Det Gda McCartan told the court that Smith had travelled with the shotgun from his home address to Whitechapel Road, where his partner had been staying following an argument between the two.
The court heard that Smith began shouting at his partner outside the house and when a physical fight ensued, she fell to the ground while holding her child.
Det Gda McCartan agreed with Mr Rahn that Smith then proceeded to retrieve a shotgun from his car and then fired twice at his partner’s Ford Focus, smashing the car’s windows.
Smith was later arrested at his home address. He was interviewed at Blanchardstown Garda Station, but nothing of evidential value arose.
One day after the incident, gardai took interest in a Mazda vehicle parked at Smith’s address on Waterville Terrace.
A search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of a double-barrel sawed-off shotgun and shotgun cartridges, which were eventually linked to the accused man.
Gardai could not verify the firearm, as serial numbers from the shotgun had been removed, the court heard.
Gardai were satisfied that the accused man was not a licensed holder of the gun.
Fiona Murphy SC, defending, advocated for leniency in Smith’s case, outlining his previous difficulties with drug addiction and efforts to rehabilitate with the Tolka River Project.
Ms Murphy told the court that Smith and his partner were broken up at the time of the offence, due to his drug use – in particular his use of cocaine – “spiralling out of control”.
Cousnel said that Smith had struggled to deal with the suicide of a friend in 2018 and that his father had died from a heroin overdose when he was 15 years old.
Letters of support for Smith, written by his partner and her mother, were furnished to the court. Both were also present at the hearing.
Ms Murphy told the court that Smith and his partner were back together one month after the shooting incident and that they have three children together.
Handing down sentencing yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan said that the defendant committed the offence in a “fit of anger”, and that his actions were “quite serious”.
Judge Nolan commented on Smith’s “reasonably good work record”, and said he was a “good father to his children”.
He also noted that the defendant had “sorted out” his problems with his partner and acknowledged her support of him.
Judge Nolan sentenced Smith to three years imprisonment and ordered that he be credited for any time served on the matter.