'Reformed' drug addict and lecturer bailed on cocaine charge

A talented footballer and reformed cocaine addict who now lectures transition year students on the dangers of drugs has been readmitted to bail pending sentence on charges of possession of more than €34,000 of cocaine.

Jeffrey Conway (aged 24) , who had a trial with Celtic Football Club, agreed to mind the drugs for a person he met at a party in return for some cocaine for his own use.

Conway, of Belclare Avenue, Poppintree, Ballymun pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the cocaine in his bedroom at his family home on June 1, 2007.

Judge Katherine Delahunt remanded Conway in custody earlier this month to allow her consider reports handed into court before she finalised his sentence.

She told Conway today that she had read the reports carefully and she was now going to adjourn the case again to allow for an updated probation report and urine analysis.

She readmitted Conway to bail to allow him to engage with the probation service and adjourned sentencing to next July.

Garda Angela McFadden told Mr Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that when gardaí acting on confidential information attended at the Conway family home, they were met by the accused who brought them to his bedroom and pointed at a wardrobe containing a large shopping bag holding a block of cocaine.

Garda McFadden said the cocaine weighed 485.9 grammes and was valued at more than €34,000.

Conway, who has no previous convictions, told gardaí he had a met a person at a party who had asked him to mind the drugs and in return he would receive some cocaine for personal use. He said he had been using cocaine heavily for a year and was spending up to €200 a week on the drug.

He said he owed about €1,600 to financial institutions, was unemployed and "could not go on without cocaine".

Garda McFadden agreed with defence counsel, Mr Luán Ó Braonáin SC (with Mr Paul Greene BL), that Conway had cooperated with gardaí in relation to his own role and was not distributing the drugs himself.

Dr David Gibney told Mr Ó Braonáin that Conway had come to him in 2007 seeking assistance in securing a place on a residential detoxification programme. He said Conway had successfully completed the programme and now spoke to transition year students about the dangers of drug addiction.

Dr Gibney said in his experience with drug addicts Conway was "exceptional and had done very well".

Mr Ó Braonáin submitted that Conway was a vulnerable individual who dealt with his insecurities via alcohol and cocaine use. He said he was open to exploitation by others as his "default setting" was to say "yes" to people in order to keep them happy and make them like him.

He said Conway had "excelled at football" and had a trial with Celtic Football Club as well as playing League of Ireland football. He said Conway had now put together a business plan to set up as a contract plumber.

Mr Ó Braonáin said Conway had successfully attended at The Rutland Centre to deal with his drug addiction and was now benefiting other young people in the community by passing on his knowledge of the dangers of drugs.

He asked the court to take into account that Conway was "an exceptional and specific offender" who had entered the earliest possible plea of guilty. He said Conway’s family were in court "in bountiful numbers" to support him.

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