A 47-year-old man, said to be aligned to one of the criminal factions in the feud in Limerick, has been given a four-year sentence for the unlawful possession of a handgun and ammunition.

Stephen Fitzgerald, a father of four from Limerick, had pleaded guilty to possession of a Glock semi automatic pistol and 19 rounds of ammunition in Limerick on 10 April 2008.

Limerick Circuit Court heard today that he had been spotted by undercover detectives taking an item shaped like a gun and wrapped in duct tape from a ditch in the Rhebogue area of the city that day.

When he failed to respond to calls for him to drop his weapon, gardaí used a taser to immobilise him and arrest him.

It was one of the first time gardaí had used the device.

Gardaí said they believed the weapon was to be used for the most serious and sinister of purposes, but that the accused intended giving it to another person.

They accepted the man had been advised his life was in danger.

The court heard that Fitzgerald was arrested five days after his brother in law Mark Moloney had been shot dead in Limerick city last April.

Gardaí told the court the accused and his family are aligned to the Keane Collopy gang. It has been involved in a violent feud in Limerick which resulted in the loss of life.

Two relatives of the accused man had been killed in feud-related violence, his son had also been shot, his daughter had been abducted, his mother had been beaten up, and his home had been shot at.

Judge Carroll Moran said, notwithstanding the attacks on Fitzgerald's family, he had to take into account the harm that is done by the use and possession of firearms.

He said the Oireachtas had given an unambiguous message to the courts that offences like this be dealt with in the most severe manner.

Judge Moran imposed a four year sentence, backdated to Fitzgerald's arrest last April.

The State has indicated it will appeal the sentence.