Man who transported €500,000 worth of drugs 'a casualty of recession'

A man who agreed to transport €500,000 worth of drugs from Dublin to Cork has today been jailed for three and half years.

The court heard that carpenter Jonathan Martin (aged 32) needed money for materials to finish a job he was in the process of completing when he agreed to transport the once legal head shops drugs.

Caroline Biggs SC, defending, said he found himself in “dire financial circumstances” as he owed about €39,000 in loans to his credit union, his bank and his father. She described her client as “a casualty of the recession”.

“His debt was crippling and overwhelming and he was not thinking straight,” counsel told Judge Martin Nolan.

She said his family were disgusted by what he had done and it has taken some time for him to re-establish a good relationship with them but they were in court to support him.

Martin of Ashgrove, Tallaght pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the cannabis substitutes, 1-butyl-3 indole and 1-pentyll-3 indole, at Carnlough Road in Cabra on February 6, 2011.

Detective Garda David McGinley told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting that the drugs were available legally in head shops until May 2010. He said that when sprayed on leaves the drugs turn into a form of cannabis.

He said gardaí had the house in Carnlough Road under surveillance when Martin pulled up in a van and boxes that had been sitting on a wall outside the house were loaded into the vehicle.

Gardaí moved in and Martin was immediately arrested. He told gardaí he had been paid €500 to transport the drugs to Mitchelstown in Cork.

Det Gda McGinley agreed with Ms McGowan that Martin was visibly upset during interview and told gardaí he had never “been involved in anything like this before”. He has no previous convictions.

He accepted a suggestion from Ms Biggs that Martin was “a gillie” who got involved because he was “desperate” for money. He also had a cocaine and cannabis habit.

Det McGinley agreed that as the drugs were only recently criminalised it was “very difficult” to place a street value on them.

Judge Nolan accepted that Martin did not own the drugs and it had been his role to transport them.

He described the offence as “a once off fall from grace” but said Martin was a mature man who knew what he was getting himself into.

“He took a chance and made a decision that was deeply inappropriate,” the judge said.

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