Two men involved in possession of more than €4m worth of drugs found in a farmyard in Clonee, Co Meath have been jailed for eight years each by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Noel McMullen (aged 41), of Summerhill, Dublin 1 and Anthony Dolan (aged 25), of Russell Avenue, Dublin 3, pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis worth more than €13,000 contrary to Section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act, on November 27, 2003.
The court heard that McMullen, the older of the two men, was "caught red handed" and that his co-accused Dolan described himself to gardaí as simply "the gobshite" and "the gillie" in the operation.
Detective Garda Jim McGovern told prosecuting counsel, Mr Luan O Braonain BL, that the drugs, hidden in a rented container at Nutstown House, Clonee, County Meath, weighed a total of 330.239 kilograms and had a market value at the time of €4.19m.
Det Gda McGovern told Mr O Braonain that a number of gardaí at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations, led by Detective Superintendent Dominic Hayes, had the farmyard under surveillence when the two accused arrived there on November 27, 2003.
First on the scene was McMullen who arrived in a Toyota Carina in the company of another man. They went over to a shed on the yard from where the other man removed two plastic bags and McMullen put them in the boot of the car.
A second car, a Fiat Punto, driven by Dolan, then arrived at the scene. Gardaí saw him go to the same shed and remove a green plastic bag from it, which he packed into the boot of his car. Officers intercepted the operation at this stage.
Det Gda McGovern said all three men then tried to flee but were apprehended. The third man, however, is at large and a bench warrant has been issued against him.
Counsel for McMullen, Mr Patrick Gageby SC (with Bernard Condon BL), told Judge Desmond Hogan that McMullen, from Dublin inner city, was a man who was trying to make a better life for himself, having gone to college as a mature student for further education.
Dolan’s counsel, Mr Michael O’Higgins SC (with Mr Paul Greene BL), said that as Dolan told gardaí himself, he had been only "the gillie" in the operation. He was a cocaine addict with a €600 a week habit and had only agreed to partake in moving the drugs to fund his addiction.
Mr O’Higgins said Dolan was only going to receive €500 for his role and had not stood to gain monetarily from his involvement.
Judge O’Higgins said their early pleas of guilty and taking their personal circumstances into account, he did not think the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years was necessary. He refused both counsel leave to appeal the severity of the sentences.