Eoin Leonard, 28, Gary St Ledger, 31, and Noel Metcalfe, 60, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing cannabis at Santry, Dublin on April 2, 2015, after they were caught by gardaí who had been tipped off about a drug delivery taking place.
The court heard Leonard, with an address at Garter Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin, was caught handing over two boxes of cannabis to St Ledger, of North Circular Road, and Metcalfe, of Mourne Rd, Drimnagh, Dublin. The boxes had a combined value of €197,400.
Garda Liam Brennan told the court that none of the three men were known to the gardaí carrying out the undercover drugs operation.
When arrested, all three co-operated and said they were delivering the boxes for other people. They said they did not know what was in the boxes, although they suspected it was drugs or “something illegal”, Garda Brennan told the court.
Caroline Biggs, SC, defending Mr Metcalfe, told the court her client had a significant debt at the time of the offence and “involved himself in the transaction as a consequent of that debt”.
Paul McGinn, BL, defending St Ledger, said he received €300 for his part in the offence, which he needed to help buy a communion dress for his daughter.
“He didn’t understand the scale of the offence he was getting into,” he said.
Leonard’s defence barrister, Damien Colgan SC, said his client had a large drug debt which led him to get involved in the drug delivery.
He said Leonard knew that what he had done was an “act of gross stupidity”.
The court heard Metcalfe has a number of previous convictions from 25 years ago, including drug-related offences in 1989 and 1988, indecent assault in 1987 and theft in 1971.
St Ledger has 22 previous convictions, mainly for road traffic offences and Leonard has 13 previous convictions, also for road traffic offences.
Sentencing the men, Judge Martin Nolan said it was clear that none of them were “close to the top of the hierarchy of the drug operation”.
“It seems they had their orders and they were marching to those orders,” the judge said. He said all three men had their “good points” but added they were “old enough to know better.”
He sentenced both Metcalfe and St Ledger to three-and-a-half years in jail. He sentenced Leonard to four years in jail, noting he had a slightly more serious role in the offence.