A taxi driver found in possession of drugs worth over €110,000 has been jailed for seven years by Judge Frank O’Donnell at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Stephen Ryan (aged 39) of Lentisk Lawn, Donaghmede pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis worth €70,000 and amphetamines worth €41,127 for sale or supply on the Malahide Road, Coolock on March 8, 2006.
Judge O'Donnell said Ryan told gardaí "a cock and bull story" when he claimed that he hadn’t known exactly what had been in a package that was found in a minibus he was driving.
Judge O'Donnell said he found no evidence to support Ryan’s claim that he was in debt at the time and said: "To the contrary he had €50,000 held in effect on deposit."
He said he had great sympathy with Ryan’s mother whom he said had written a letter to the court which differed from "the tearful" correspondence he got from other parents anticipating their child’s fate.
Judge O’Donnell said this letter set out a factual account of Ryan’s life, how she had financially assisted him and his brother to set up a taxi business and how they had worked "night and day" to pay her back but that when the industry was deregulated in 2000, it undermined the €70,000 investment in a real way.
Judge O'Donnell said he accepted that Ryan undoubtedly suffered from depression, having previously received medical attention for the condition. He said taking into account his guilty plea and his lack of previous convictions, it would be "unjust" to impose the presumptive mandatory 10 years sentence.
Garda Michael Tracy said confidential information led to gardaí stopping the minibus Ryan was driving on the Malahide Road and the package containing the drugs was found in the footwell of the vehicle.
Ryan told gardaí he was aware he was in possession of "an illegal substance" but didn’t know what it was. He said he had built up a drug debt because of his own cannabis use and the men he owed money to had sought him out to pick up the package.
He admitted that he had €50,000 in savings which he said included €13,000 from a claim and a further €5,000 from insurance.
Ryan's partner told defence counsel, Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, that Ryan had difficulties with his mental health and had suffered from depression.