A sixty-year-old Crossmaglen man has vehemently denied that he is a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) after recent trouble with the police.
John Joe O’Shea was apprehended at a routine police check-point near the village of Crossmagleen, County Armagh last month and appeared in court on charges of possession of an automatic rifle — an Avtomat Kalashnikova, commonly known as an AK47.
‘It was for pest control’
Mr O’Shea told the presiding judge, Justice Lewis Murphy, that his only reason for carrying the weapon was “plain and simple pest control” and that he is not, and never was, a member of the Provisional IRA or any derivative thereof.
“It’s like this your Honour, Sir” O’Shea told the Judge in a confident tone of voice. “I owns a bit of land straddling the border and try to eke out a living raising the few cattle.
“But be-Jaysus your Honour, the fecking place is overrun with fecking rabbits, it is to be sure. The only way to get rid of them is to shoot the little rampant feckers,” he swore in evidence.
A pity to let the gun go to waste
Asked by the prosecuting Crown counsel as to why he needed an automatic rifle capable of shooting 600 rounds a minute when a simple shotgun would suffice, O’Shea didn’t waver.
“Well as you know your Honour Judge Sir, those fecking rabbits breed like feck. You no sooner shoot one then ten other feckers take their shagging place.
“Anyway, I found the auld AK47 in an old Landrover after we got rid of the Brits. Shur, it would be a pity to let it go to waste,” said O’Shea, who seemingly had an answer for everything.
O’Shea denies all charges against him
O’Shea, who was also facing charges of membership of an illegal organisation, denied that he had ever travelled to Libyan terrorist training camps during the late seventies or at one stage was involved in illegal gun-running.
“Ah Be-Jaysus no, your Honour Sir,” O’Shea said to the judge. “Shur granted I did travel the odd time to Libya but that was only to investigate how the Libyans managed their suckling calves.
“Old Colonel Gaddafi was a great hand at the dairy farming, God rest his soul, so he was. And that trawler that sank off Donegal was only carrying a few crates of farm implements that the Colonel gifted us so it was,” he tried to convince the court.
Senior Counsel for the Crown then questioned O’Shea as to how he came about the money he needed to buy the four-hundred-acre farm he owns and which straddles both sides of the border.
“Ah shur, that’s not me land at all.” said O’Shea “Shur, every blade of grass on it belongs to me two sons Shamus and Semtex, and shur they won the money on a game of cards and on the horses.
“It was only pure coincidence that there was a big bank robbery in Newry that very day, So it was,” O’Shea pleaded, once more trying to convince the court of his innocence.
All charges dropped
Chief Justice Murphy, who, incidentally, is the first judge appointed under the new power-sharing agreement by Sinn Féin found O’Shea not guilty on all charges and criticised the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) for wasting the court’s time.