A son of murder victim Kevin McGuigan was yesterday jailed for 18 months for having a loaded gun, ammunition and drugs at a Co Antrim hotel.
Kevin McGuigan jnr (38) of Botanic Avenue, Belfast, pleaded guilty to possessing an automatic pistol with intent to cause fear or violence; having ammunition without a certificate, and possessing class A and B drugs.
The painter and decorator appeared at Belfast Crown Court via video-link from Maghaberry Prison.
The court heard he arrived at the Chimney Corner Hotel at 4.45am on June 16, 2019 looking for a room for the night.
It was the prosecution case that the father-of-two presented himself to the night porter "with a firearm in his waistband, which was visible".
The court was told that "no cry was raised" at that stage to alert police and it wasn't until later that morning when staff came in at around 6.45am that the breakfast chef was informed there was a "man outside with a gun" accompanied by a female.
The defendant was asked about the gun and he "pulled it out and pointed it" before putting it back in his waistband, saying: "I am only joking in your face."
The PSNI was contacted and went to the hotel. Officers recovered a converted firearm, ammunition, a small amount of cocaine and a blister pack of temazepam tablets.
Judge Neil Rafferty QC told the court that during his life the defendant had "suffered a degree of violence and his father was murdered in 2015".
The judge referred to a psychiatric report that concluded at the time of the offences McGuigan was suffering from PTSD "as a result of the threats made on his own life over the years and his father's murder".
The defendant told the psychiatrist that he lived in a state of "perpetual anxiety and fear" and denied hurting anyone.
Judge Rafferty said that the possession of an illegal firearm is a "serious criminal offence that attracts an immediate custodial sentence". But he said he was satisfied that there were exceptional circumstances in the case that would afford him the flexibility in not imposing the minimum sentence of five years for possessing a loaded gun in a public place.
After allowing for a 40% discount under the current Covid-19 sentencing regulations, Judge Rafferty imposed a three-year sentence - 18 months in prison and 18 free on licence.
He also imposed concurrent sentences for the drugs offences.
Kevin McGuigan snr, a father-of-nine and former IRA prisoner, was a suspect in the murder of IRA boss Gerard 'Jock' Davison in May 2015, although he denied involvement.
At the time of the murder of Mr McGuigan in August 2015 in the Short Strand area of east Belfast the PSNI said it believed he was shot dead by the Provisional IRA.