*The case came before the Ennis Circuit Court. 

A FATHER of three school going children has pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of an M16 machine gun used in war zones, 179 rounds of ammunition and a 30 round capacity magazine in a forested area at Shannon last September.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Evan Little (32) of Inis Eagla, Shannon, Co Clare entered the guilty pleas in connection with the three firearms charges from September 15th last.

With a number of supporters in the courtroom for his brief hearing, Mr Little pleaded guilty to having in his unlawful possession an M16 assault rifle and 179 rounds of ammunition in a forested area at Clonmoney West, Shannon on September 15th.

Mr Little has also pleaded guilty to having in his unlawful possession a 30 round capacity magazine at Clonmoney West, Shannon on September 15th last.

After Mr Little entered his guilty pleas, counsel for the accused, Pat Whyms BL told Judge Francis Comerford that his client “is in custody on these matters alone and there is some pressing urgency in that regard”.

Mr Whyms said that a Probation Report is essential in the case as the offences “represent a very serious escalation of his previous engagements with the criminal justice system”.

Mr Little went forward to the circuit court on signed pleas of guilty which removed the need of the State to draw up a Book of Evidence in the case.

Mr Little was first arrested arising from a joint operation between the Emergency Response Unit and the Clare Divisional Drugs Unit.

Mr Little has been on remand in custody since last September after being first refused bail in the district court and in the High Court in November.

At the District Court bail hearing last September, Mr Little’s solicitor, Daragh Hassett said that his client “is a law abiding PAYE worker” and that his client’s time in custody is the first time Mr Little has ever spent time in prison.

Det Garda Ger Cunningham told the court at the bail hearing that Gardai were objecting to bail due to the seriousness of the charges and the significant calibre weapon involved which he said is commonly used by military personnel.

On the weapon seized, Judge Alec Gabbett commented in court last September, “This is a machine gun. This is the type of automatic rifle used in war zones”.

Mr Little is a qualified tree surgeon. Judge Comerford remanded Mr Little in custody to appear via video-link at Ennis Circuit Court on March 8th to fix a date for sentence.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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