Wicklow man jailed after he was caught with €6m worth of cannabis

Wicklow Man Jailed After He Was Caught With €6M Worth Of Cannabis
He was arrested in Spain last year after his car was pulled over, and he was extradited to Ireland last December.
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Isabel Hayes

A man who was caught helping to transport €6 million worth of cannabis hidden in a fake shoebox consignment has been jailed for six and a half years.

Ryon Fitzpatrick (34) was arrested along with two other men as they prepared to enter a derelict field in north county Dublin in October 2020.


The drugs were contained in a van full of shoeboxes, while Fitzpatrick was driving an accompanying look-out car which was driving in convoy with the van, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.

Fitzpatrick was arrested and questioned but not charged, and he moved to Spain a few months later, Detective Garda Val Russell told Garret McCormack BL, prosecuting.

He was arrested in Spain last year after his car was pulled over, and he was extradited to Ireland last December. He has been in custody since then.

Fitzpatrick, with an address at Cookstown Road, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing cannabis for sale or supply at Stockhole Lane, Cloghran, Swords, Co Dublin on October 23rd 2020.


He has 13 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences.

The drugs had come into the country in a shipment from Bilbao, Spain and were intercepted by customs officials, the court heard.

Gardaí arranged for a controlled delivery of these drugs to a legitimate logistics centre in Dublin, which was put under surveillance.

The court heard that Fitzpatrick's co-accused – Anthony Kinghorn and Mark Nesbitt - travelled to Ireland from the UK and were seen by gardaí leaving the logistics centre in a van on the day in question. They were accompanied by Fitzpatrick, who was driving a car.


Gardaí stopped the men just as they were about to enter a derelict field in Swords. A total of 304 kilos of cannabis were found in shoe boxes in the back of the van, with an estimated street value of €6,080,000.

Fitzpatrick was also found to have a small amount of cocaine in his car, as well as three phones – one of which was encrypted with an app that criminal gangs use to communicate, the court heard.

He was carrying a fake document stating he worked for a pet shop and was an essential worker, which allowed him to travel during Covid lockdowns.

Gardaí believe he was at around the mid-level of a criminal gang.


Kinghorn (now 51) of Hatfield, Herdfordshire, London, England, pleaded guilty and was jailed for eight years in 2021.

Nesbitt (now 53) of Whitefield House, Cecil Crescent, Hatfield, Hertfordshire in the UK was found guilty by a jury following a trial in 2022 and was also jailed for eight years.

John Fitzgerald SC, defending, said Fitzpatrick fled to Spain because he was under threat. He said he had built a new life for himself over there, was working and was in a relationship.

He said Fitzpatrick grew up in a household with material advantages, but that his home life was characterised by alcohol and violence. He started taking drugs as a teenager and engaged in self-destructive behaviour.


He amassed a drug debt in the lead-up to this offence, which resulted in his involvement in the crime, counsel said. He is now drug-free and attempting to better his life while in custody, the court heard.

Sentencing Fitzpatrick on Tuesday, Judge Pauline Codd said it was a serious crime involving a serious amount of drugs. She noted the “attendant harm that causes”.

She set a headline sentence of 11 and a half years but reduced it to nine years after mitigation. She suspended the final two and a half years of this sentence on a number of conditions.

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