A father of three who was part of “a large scale drug distribution hub” has been jailed for eight and half years after he admitted possession of over €4m worth of cannabis and heroin.
Darren Cusack (47) of Saul Road, Crumlin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Ballyfermot Drive, Ballyfermot on July 17, 2017. He also admitted possession of three stun guns on the same date and the same place.
Detective Garda Brian Foran told Ronan Kennedy SC, prosecuting, that officers “were practically tripping over stuff” when they discovered 188kgs of cannabis herb and 2.9kgs of cocaine.
He described it as “a large scale drug distribution hub” telling the court that a money counting machine, two plastic bag sealers, three stun guns and a weighing scales were also found in the garage.
It was accepted that while there was no evidence that Cusack owned the drugs, he was seen carrying flat pack boxes from a truck into a garage where the drugs were stored.
The gardaí believe the truck was originally involved in transporting the drugs to the garage.
Det Gda Foran confirmed that a co-accused Stephen Sarsfield (39) of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8, was sentenced to seven years in prison by Judge Martin Nolan in April 2018.
His case was brought to the Court of Criminal Appeal on the basis of undue leniency and the sentenced was increased to ten years.
A third man, Mark O'Dwyer (44) of Emmet Buildings, Watling Street, Dublin , was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Nolan in May 2018.
O'Dwyer's case is also subject to a review from the Court of Criminal Appeal on the grounds of undue leniency.
Det Gda Foran confirmed that Cusack was interviewed seven times and exercised his right to silence in all but the final interview.
He said he had been offered “a bit of work for the day” and had no idea that drugs were involved.
Cusack told gardaí it was soon “plain to see” that cannabis was involved but he didn't feel he could walk away.
“I should have walked away. I accept the role that I played and deeply regret my participation,” Cusack said before he told gardaí he would plead guilty although he later looked for a trial date to be set before changing his plea.
Det Gda Foran said Cusack told gardaí he was an unemployed courier at the time and father to three children, two of whom were from a previous relationship.
Today Judge Nolan said Cusack said “little or nothing” until the last interview with gardaí when he made some admissions.
“It was undoubtedly a large amount of drugs but the evidence is that he didn't own these drugs, nor was he the chief organiser in the distribution of the drugs,” Judge Nolan said.
“He brought boxes in to be used for onwards transmission of these drugs,” the judge said.
The judge said that in sentencing Cusack he was also taking into account how the Court of Criminal Appeal dealt with Sarsfield.
He said he was satisfied that the fact that Sarsfield had keys to the truck, Cusack was not on the same level as him.
Dominic McGinn SC, defending, told Judge Nolan that he does not accept the State's proposition that his client level of involvement was “on a par” with Sarsfield.
He said Sarsfield had the keys to the truck that gardaí believe the drugs originated from and he was still at the scene when officers moved into raid the garage, while Cusack was not.
Mr McGinn said his client is the father of a five year old autistic boy who is hugely dependent on him.
Cusack arranges his working day around the child to allow him to pick him up from school and give him his lunch. He said a long prison sentence would really impact on his client's son.
Det Gda Foran said there were “drugs everywhere and an overpowering smell of cannabis herb”. He said the woman who owned the property next door didn't have access to the garage itself. It was being used as a business premises by another man.
He said gardaí set up a surveillance operation that morning, having received a tip off that a criminal gang was in possession of a large quantity of drugs.
Officers noted that there was a large lorry parked outside a house opposite the garage and watched O'Dwyer, Sarsfield and Cusack going into and out of the building over the course of the day.
At one point Sarsfield, got into the lorry and performed a u-turn before parking the vehicle directly outside the garage. The men were then seen moving flat pack boxes from the back of the truck into the garage.
Gardaí secured a warrant later that afternoon and searched the garage before Sarsfield and O'Dwyer were arrested. Cusack who had driven away minutes before gardaí raided the premises was arrested when he returned.