Taxi driver who became entangled in drug smuggling operation jailed for nine years

A Dublin taxi driver who became involved in a €3.5 million drug operation to offset his cousin's debt to dealers has been jailed for nine years.

Gardaí with confidential information saw Michael Smullen (31) take two bags from a lock-up facility, drive a short distance and then hand these to another man.

Detective Garda Patrick Hearne said he and his colleagues arrested the men and discovered the bags to contain cannabis and cocaine worth over €114,900.

Investigators subsequently found 18.5kg of cocaine, along with heroin, ketamine, cannabis herb and resin and €51,000 of MDMA in the lock-up, behind boxes of dried flowers. The total value of all of the drugs was €3,592,374.

Smullen, a father-of-two of Oak Park Avenue, Royal Oak, Santry, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two charges of possessing the drugs at St Joseph's Avenue and St Columba's Road Lower, Drumcondra, Dublin, on December 20, 2017.

His only previous convictions are for minor road traffic offences.

Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, had submitted to Judge Elma Sheahan that his client's cousin had been previously jailed for a significant drug offence.

He said Smullen offered to take over his cousin's debt to dealers and that this was called in during the summer of 2017. He said his client felt under pressure and that's why he got involved.

Mr O'Higgins submitted to Judge Sheahan that a psychologist report had deemed that Smullen had a tendency to take on other people's problems.

Det Gda Hearne told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that the other man involved in taking the drugs from Smullen received a six year sentence with two suspended. The court heard this man was only charged with possessing the bags of cannabis and cocaine.

The detective agreed with Mr O'Higgins that his client had not owned the drugs.

He agreed that Smullen had a difficult upbringing, that he was prone to assuming other people's burdens and that he had a strong work ethic.

Mr O'Higgins handed in character references to court and submitted that his client had been coaching children in football since 2012. He asked the judge to take into account Smullen's early guilty plea and to suspend the final part of the sentence imposed.

Judge Sheahan imposed a nine year prison sentence after noting Smullen's involvement was not due to addiction. She said that the owners of the drugs must have had some trust in Smullen given the amount he was holding.

She noted that it was a sad irony that he became involved in this operation given his own mother's “herculean efforts” to protect her family from the toxic drug culture surrounding them.

The judge noted Smullen's remorse and the lack of any trappings of material wealth on his part.

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