A man who was caught with €900,000 worth of cannabis resin over a decade ago has been jailed for five and a half years.
After he was arrested and charged in 2009, James Holland fled to the UK, where he was homeless for a number of years, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard today.
He returned to Ireland in April this year and handed himself in to gardaí. He has one minor conviction dating back to 2004.
Holland (52) with an address at Fuel Yard, Finglas, Dublin pleaded guilty to one count of possessing cannabis resin for sale or supply at an address in Dunboyne, Co Meath on September 17, 2009.
Detective Garda Michael Ormond told the court that a suspected drug shipment was placed under surveillance by gardaí after it arrived in Dublin Port in September 2009.
On the day in question, Holland was seen moving the drugs from a truck into a unit in an industrial park in Donabate before leaving in a van.
When gardaí pulled him over in Dunboyne, they discovered several boxes containing 150 kilos of cannabis resin in the van. The drugs had a street value of €900,000 at the time, the court heard.
When questioned by gardaí, Holland was visibly nervous, the court heard. He told gardaí he couldn't tell them who supplied the drugs or he would be killed. He said he agreed to move the drugs for “€200 or €300”.
Sean Gillane SC, defending, told the court Holland grew up in the Sean McDermott Street area of Dublin and, up until his 40s, was an “upstanding member of that community”. He was a community worker and drove a minibus for the parish, the court heard.
Shortly before the offence, his relationship broke down, he lost his job and he got into debt. “He was preyed upon by others who were involved in this enterprise,” Mr Gillane submitted.
After he was arrested and charged, Holland made the “utterly self-defeating” decision to flee the jurisdiction, the court heard. He spent a number of years in the UK moving from “couch to couch” and was homeless for periods of time.
During this time, his relationship with his children suffered and his father died. He did not return for the funeral, the court heard.
Handing down a five-and-a-half year sentence, Judge Martin Nolan accepted Holland had a difficult life after he absconded to the UK. The judge said he was unlikely to re-offend upon his release from prison.