Tipperary Man Guilty Of Importing Illegal Firearms

Charges under Section 27A of the Firearms Act 1964 and the Criminal Justice Act of 2006, have resulted in a guilty verdict being found against a Tipperary man.

Mr Thomas Bates, No.51 Abbey Street, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, was found guilty of conspiring to possess an explosive substance, a firearm and ammunition. Same was uncovered following a joint operation by the FBI and An Garda Síochána investigating attempts made to access the aforementioned illegal items on the “Darknet”, (Darknet – A portion of the Internet purposefully not open / available to public view).

Following his conviction, Mr Bates has now been remanded in custody and is expected to be sentenced in July after he was convicted by a jury at Clonmel Circuit Court of the three charges between October 24th and November 10th 2017.

While found not guilty of the possession of ammunition on November 10th 2017, the two-week trial heard evidence from an FBI agent and a number of Gardaí which included members of the Special Detective Unit from Harcourt Square, Dublin.

The offences had been detected after an anonymous person with the online persona of Snow4, attempted via the darknet to purchase illegal items, namely a Glock pistol, a hand grenade and several rounds of ammunition. His activity was picked up by the FBI who contacted Gardaí. A delivery was then arranged to the address given by Snow4 and made via a Garda member posing as a postman to the address of Mr Bates under the name “Tim Bates”. Mr Thomas Bates was not Snow4.

Thomas Bates signed for three packages at 12.53pm on November 10th at his home and demonstrated no surprise when receiving the items. The accused informed the Garda / postman, that Tim Bates was his son and was currently hospitalised. There was in fact, in reality, no Tim Bates.

When Gardaí raided the house there was a fire lighting in the back garden and remnants of the packaging used in the delivery were located, while the items contained had been placed in a plastic bag near the gateway.

Messages were found from Snow4 stating “they landed bro, happy days, I’ll have them this evening,” and contained information that had to have come from an individual who had previously viewed the packages.

In Garda interviews following his arrest, Mr Bates had denied taking the delivery of any items or indeed starting a fire to destroy evidence.

One other accused, Mr Nigel Gartland aged 34, with an address at No.4 Knocklofty Heights, Clonmel, Co Tipperary was found not guilty by direction of Mr Justice Thomas Teehan.


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