Man jailed for transporting €2.4m worth of cannabis13/06/2012 - 18:33:09
A father-of-one has been jailed for seven years today after he was caught transporting almost €2.4m worth of cannabis herb and storing over €400,000 worth of cocaine at this home.
Stephen Kelly (aged 32) was caught during a large garda surveillance operation. He was spotted loading a pallet onto a van and driving it to a street in Rathcoole, close to where his co-accused, Keith Maloney, lived.
He was to be paid €1,500 for transporting the cannabis herb and €3,000 for storing the cocaine.
Kelly of Fassaugh Road, Cabra West pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply on June 28, 2011 at Rathcoole and on July 6, 2011 at his home. He has eight previous convictions for public order, road traffic and criminal damage offences.
Maloney (aged 27) was sentenced to nine years with the final two suspended by Judge Patrick McCartan last March. The judge described Maloney as an active player in the distribution of drugs into the community.
Maloney of Peyton Court, Stoneylane, Rathcoole had pleaded guilty to possession of the cannabis herb for sale or supply.
Judge Martin Nolan said Kelly had been contracted to transport the drugs and must have “strongly suspected” there was a large amount involved after he had to load a pallet’s worth into the van.
He accepted that Kelly was on a lower rung of the ladder to Maloney but said a “third party thought Mr Kelly was a good candidate for their use”.
“He had a decision to make and unfortunately for himself and for society he made the wrong decision,” Judge Nolan said.
He further accepted that Kelly was a decent man who had become addicted to drugs, “which led him down a path that brought him here today”.
Detective Garda Lorraine Brennan told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, the men were arrested after a garda surveillance operation was put in place as a result of confidential information received by the members of the Garda National Drugs Unit.
Maloney and Kelly were followed by gardai for a day before detectives stopped Maloney’s van and searched him. They found 195kg of cannabis with an estimated street value of just under €2.4m.
Det Gda Brennan said Kelly had already been seen loading a pallet from a warehouse in Swords onto the van and driving it to Rathcoole.
The cocaine was found hidden behind the kick boards of his kitchen cabinets after a follow up search of his home.
Kelly told gardai he had agreed to transport the drugs for €1,500 and had been told to buy a mobile phone for the purpose.
He later discarded the phone in The Phoenix Park when he heard about the drug seizure on the news.
Det Gda Brennan agreed with Sean Gillane SC, defending, that the intelligence was based on “another man” and Kelly had been unknown to gardai in the context of the drugs operation.
She further agreed that Kelly did not have “a propriety interest” in the drugs, that he was further down the ladder than Maloney and had not come to garda attention since his arrest.
Mr Gillane said his client’s case was “a tale of two lives lived”. Kelly had led “an unremarkable but productive life” as an apprenticeship electrician and a labourer before he started to abuse drugs.
“His problem worsened as the work dried up and he started to build up a debt,” counsel told Judge Nolan.
He said his client then agreed to transport the drugs and then came under further pressure and was forced to store the cocaine.
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