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Father-of-three Shannon found with machine gun tells Ennis Court getting caught was ‘the best’

Photo: © Pat Flynn

A father-of-three found with an M16 machine gun used in war zones in Shannon has said being caught was for the best as it prevented the weapon from being used.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Evan Little said the reason he kept the gun in a wooded area in Clonmoney West in Shannon was because he feared people to whom he owed a €12,000 drug debt would harm his partner and his children, 11 years old. 7 and 4.

In the case, Mr Little (33) of Inis Eagla, Shannon pleaded guilty to possessing the M16 machine gun, 179 rounds of ammunition and a 30-round magazine in a wooded area of ​​Shannon last September.

Mr Little, a tree surgeon, has been remanded in custody since local Gardai and members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) attacked Mr Little during a surveillance operation of the military grade weapon on September 15 past.

In a letter written by Little to Judge Francis Comerford read in open court, he said he wanted to express his “deepest remorse” for his actions.

Little said: “On reflection, this could have had dire consequences – he had no right to do what he had done.”

“I now believe that being caught with the firearm was the best thing to prevent it from ever being used.”

“I know in my heart that if that happened, it would be the end of me. “I certainly would never want anything bad to happen to anyone.”

He said: “I can honestly say that I am wracked with guilt over this terrible decision I made.”

He said: “It has had a knock-on effect on a number of people – my partner and children are never far from my mind.”

Little said: “I feel really bad for the rest of my family for bringing shame to our name. I don’t think I’m a bad person, but I made some very bad decisions.

Little said he has three friends who have died in recent years.

He said: “Five years ago I lost a friend to suicide and I think this led to a decline and I became very depressed afterwards. “Two and a half years ago the same thing happened to another friend and a year ago the same thing happened again.”

He said he turned to drugs after the most recent death and racked up a drug debt.

He said: “The people I got the drugs from threatened me and my family. I was afraid that they would hurt my partner and my children and that is the reason why I agreed to hide the gun from them.

“It was a terrible decision, but I was under pressure…
“I was trapped between one rock and another rock.”

He said: “It breaks my heart that I let myself, my partner and my children down. Seeing children cry during prison visits breaks my heart.”

In the reading read by his solicitor, Patrick Whyms BL (instituted by solicitor Daragh Hassett), Mr Little said he knows he must be punished but asked Judge Comerford for leniency.

In a separate letter from Little’s partner read by Whyms, she said Little “is a good, hard-working man and a good father who went down a bad path.”

She said: “Evan went out for a walk with the dog like he did most days and never came home – the children are very affected by this.”

She said: “He’s never been in trouble in his life and I’m sure this is the first and last time.”

Mr Whyms said Mr Little’s letter was very revealing and he is very sorry.

He said Mr. Little is not a threat to society and called for a substantial part of the sentence to be suspended.

Garda Gerald Cunningham of Shannon Garda Station told the court Mr Little’s only previous convictions are for public order and simple drug possession.

He said an examination of Mr Little’s phone revealed searches for different weapons: pistols, rifles and machine guns.

Whyms said Little “has an almost unblemished record and has had almost no contact with the criminal justice system.”

Whyms stated that he has a reference from a tree care company and the letter indicates that they will have work for Little in the future.

Judge Francis Comerford said he would pass sentence on Friday (tomorrow) and also ordered Mr Little remanded in custody until then.