Man used children as ‘cover’ in €400k drug deal

A man who took two children “as cover” to a €400,000 drug deal has received an eight-year prison sentence with the last 18 months suspended.

Keith Groves, aged 32, was arrested after gardaí observed him guiding a van containing 70kg of cannabis into Dublin City.

Groves, of Cloonlara Rd, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession to cannabis for sale or supply at Sycamore Park in Finglas on Mar 29, 2011.

He was one of four men arrested in the operation. Two of his co-accused have received five-year jail terms.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said a “particularly disturbing” aspect of the crime was the involvement of two very young children, who were in the car with Groves and a co-accused.

Det Gda Aisling Hobbs told Michael Bowman, prosecuting, that the men were seen moving between a hotel in Dundalk and their cars, which were parked in the hotel car park, and that they brought the children in and out of the hotel with them.

Judge Ring said she could only conclude that the children were taken along to be used “as cover for the two adult males”. She said this was “irresponsible in the extreme” and she considered it an aggravating factor in the case.

She also noted that Groves had not co-operated with gardaí after his arrest. He entered a guilty plea last December.

She said his eight previous convictions, all for road traffic offences, were not as serious as this offence.

The judge noted testimonials from West Finglas Boxing Club and Outdoor Adventures Ireland and also his previous work record.

Paul Greene, defending, said his client had issues with cocaine and alcohol but was a family man. He said he had pleaded guilty before his trial date which freed up Garda resources.

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