Three men who acted as “mules” for €3.3m worth of heroin have been jailed for 10 years each at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court
Judge Katherine Delahunt said that anyone caught with that amount of drugs was well above the lowest level and deserved the mandatory minimum sentence for 10 years.
“None of you rank at the bottom rung of the drugs trade,” she told the men. “You may not be the barons but you provide a very effective barrier between them and the gardaí.”
She accepted they had cooperated with gardaí but only because they were caught “red-handed”. She also noted they had not provided any information beyond their own involvement.
Rejecting appeals to suspend some of the term, she said she was being generous and that if it was not for their early guilty pleas, their sentences would be even longer.
John Paul Cawley (aged 30) of Lugdoon, Doocastle, Ballymoate, Sligo; Andrew Meeson (aged 40) of The Hawthorns, Carraroe, Sligo; Greg O’Brien (aged 20) of Dolphins Road, Drimnagh, pleaded guilty to possessing heroin worth €3.27m at Boomer’s car park, Woodford Walk, Clondalkin in Dublin on January 23, 2009.
Detective Garda Paul Kane told Mr Sean Guerin BL, prosecuting, that a garda operation was put in place on the evening and a Nissan Almera and a Fiat Punto car pulled up at a car park in Ballyfermot.
The driver of the Fiat Punto, identified as Greg O’Brien, got out of his car and went to the Nissan Almera and then returned to his car.
Gardai followed the two cars to Boomer’s car park where they searched and located a sports holdall containing 14 half kilo bags of heroin valued at €1.3m on the floor of the front passenger seat in the Punto.
Gardai found a suitcase containing 20 half kilo bags of heroin valued at €1.9m in the Almera which Cawley was driving and Meeson was a passenger.
Detective Garda Fiona Connaughton told Mr Guerin that Meeson had travelled to Dublin to deliver one suitcase to a third party to offset his cocaine debt.
Meeson explained in interview that he was given a mobile phone on arrival and €450 and told to stay overnight at a hotel and wait for a call with further instructions.
Det Gda Connaughton said there was forensic analysis linking Meeson’s phone to one of the phones found in the Fiat Punto.
She agreed with Mr Colm Smith SC, defending Meeson, that his client had been in genuine fear of the people who had given him the job and had a gun put to his head at one point.
Mr Smith submitted to Judge Delahunt that Meeson, who has three previous convictions including burglary, had a past dependency on cocaine and was now in poor health following a heart attack in custody.
Cawley admitted he “took the job due to debt problems.” He had come to Dublin from Sligo the previous night specifically for the job.
O’Brien, who was unemployed at the time, said he got involved as he “owed a guy a few hundred quid.”
It was claimed that none of men gained financially from the crime. Judge Delahunt noted O’Brien’s clean record and strong family support. She accepted he had a cocaine problem and did the job as “more of a favour than anything else.”
Counsel for Meeson said he was an English national who has been living in Ireland for several years. He is also a cocaine addict and owed money for drugs.
The judge also noted Cawley’s immediate admissions to gardaí and his claim that he did not know how much drugs were in the car. On arrest he told gardaí, “it’s my blow and I’ll deal with it.”