By Isabel Hayes
A Cavan truck driver who smuggled more than €1m worth of cocaine into the country has been jailed for four years.
Maurice McCreesh, of Ballyjamesduff Road, Lisreagh, Co Cavan, initially pretended he was a customs informant when he was caught by gardaí with nearly 15 kilos of cocaine hidden in his truck at Dublin Port on September 12, 2015.
But he later came clean and admitted he transported the drugs from Liverpool to Dublin for criminals to whom he owed money.
The 38-year-old father-of-two pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of possessing cocaine for sale or supply.
Detective Garda Tim Casey of the Garda National Drugs Unit told Elva Duffy BL, prosecuting, today said that gardaí received confidential information that a large consignment of drugs would be entering Dublin Port in a P&O ferry on the day in question.
Upon searching McCreesh's truck, they found 15 packets of cocaine with a street value of €1.04m.
When interviewed, McCreesh told gardaí he met a man in Liverpool who gave him the packages to bring to Dublin. He claimed he did not look into the packages, but he knew it was something illegal.
He initially said he was transporting the drugs as part of his work as a customs informant, but this was quickly disproven.
He has no previous convictions, except for one “technical” conviction in France, the court heard.
Garnet Orange SC, defending, said his client had been “nurtured” by an unknown person and persuaded to transport packages between the UK and Ireland.
On one occasion, money from one of these illegal consignments was seized and the gang he was working for held him responsible, the court heard. Mr Orange said McCreesh spent some time in hiding from the gang, and at one stage was living in the cab of his truck.
However, he then “gullibly agreed” to do this final delivery for the gang, which was supposed to erase his debt, Mr Orange said. McCreesh did not materially benefit from the work and he did so out of fear, the court heard.
Mr Orange said his client had a difficult childhood in Newry, Northern Ireland, where he grew up during the Troubles. He was adopted because his mother was unable to care for him. He had a good relationship with his adopted family and was deeply affected by the death of his teenage adopted brother, who was killed in a car bomb incident.
He left school at an early age to do farm work, before becoming a truck driver. He can barely read or write, the court heard.
Sentencing McCreesh, Judge Martin Nolan noted he had co-operated with gardaí, had no previous convictions and was unlikely to come before the court again.
But he said the transportation of over €1m was an “extremely serious offence” and merited a four-year sentence.