Court jails drug addict for importing cocaine

An alcoholic courier drug addict who tried to slit his throat after being arrested for importing cocaine valued over €200,000 has been given a six and a half year sentence.

An alcoholic courier drug addict who tried to slit his throat after being arrested for importing cocaine valued over €200,000 has been given a six and a half year sentence.

Stephen O’Reilly (aged 23) had attempted suicide by hanging himself two months before he carried the cocaine to repay a debt to a drug dealer whose car he had damaged.

Defence counsel, Ms Pauline Walley SC, said the threat of "two to the back of the head" was O’Reilly’s motivation in making a trip to England to collect the cocaine for the criminal dealer.

He was arrested after Customs and Excise Officers at Dublin Port, acting on confidential information, searched a white van driven by him and found the cocaine concealed in it.

O’Reilly told gardaí he was in fear of his life before becoming very upset in the garda station and attempting to slit his throat with a broken plate.

O’Reilly of Tyrconnell Road, Inchicore pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the cocaine for sale or supply on October 10, 2006. He had 35 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic and public order offences

Judge Tony Hunt imposed a six-and-a-half-year sentence with the final two suspended on strict conditions.

Sergeant Noel Carolan told prosecuting counsel, Mr Bernard Condon BL, that Customs and Excise Officers, acting on confidential information, searched the white van driven by O’Reilly after it disembarked at Dublin Port from the Irish Ferries sailing from Holyhead.

An initial search of the van revealed nothing but a motorcycle O’Reilly said he bought to make it "look better". The van was kept in overnight and a subsequent search the following day revealed three packages of cocaine valued at €205,604 in a cavity under a foot well.

O’Reilly, who had been released the previous day, was contacted by gardaí and told he could collect the van but was arrested on arrival.

Sgt Carolan said he told gardaí he had transported the cocaine out of fear in order to repay a debt he had accrued by burning out a car which turned out to belong to a drug dealer.

O’Reilly said he had been given instructions to drive to Watford near London and park the van in a certain shopping centre. He then rang a number he had been given and left the van unlocked before he returned to it later to begin his homeward journey.

Sgt Carolan agreed with Ms Walley (with Ms Grainne O’Neill BL), that the van did not belong to O’Reilly and said he believed it had been used to transport drugs at least once before. He also agreed that O’Reilly had made immediate admissions.

Ms Walley said O’Reilly had abused drugs and alcohol since he was a teenager and had spent the majority of a €23,000 claim he received when he was 18 on alcohol. She said he had suffered the loss of his father at a young age and his mother had found him difficult to control.

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