Gardaí caught a drug mule transporting a €120,000 stash of cannabis to Nadd bog in North Cork 10 years ago and now he has been jailed for three and a half years.
Detective Sergeant Michael O’Halloran said that back on July 4, 2012, gardaí received confidential information about the transporting of the drugs.
The car driven by Tony Walsh of Gortmore, Banteer, Co Cork, was followed from the village of Five Mile en route to Nadd and stopped for a search near Cork Airport. Six kilos of cannabis was discovered.
When the accused was interviewed at Togher Garda Station, he said he was to travel to Five Mile, collect the drugs and take them to Nadd bog in North Cork and he was to receive €1,200 for doing this.
Det Sgt O’Halloran said the accused had relevant previous convictions and was 40 years old at the time and living in Banteer. For most of the intervening 10 years he has been living and working in London.
Tom Creed, defence senior counsel, said accused was not a fugitive when he left Cork to live in the Channel Islands and later in London, as he had not been charged at the time he left.
The accused was arrested in London on a European arrest warrant and ultimately brought before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing.
Mr Creed said at the time of the crime Walsh’s marriage had broken down and he was drinking and taking drugs. He became indebted to drug traffickers and agreed to transport these drugs in to defray his debt.
Det Sgt O’Halloran said: “He never elaborated on what his debt was or how bad his addiction was. He was more of a user but I would say alcohol was a bigger problem for him.”
Mr Creed said the accused left Ireland in February 2013, seven months after the detection of the offence and at a time when no charges had been brought against him.
“He said he was relieved to have matters over and done with when he signed the plea of guilty back in Ireland. He acknowledges the harm drugs can do to society and acknowledges that a custodial sentence will follow.
Judge Sarah Berkeley categorised the defendant as a drug mule in terms of the incident in 2012.
The judge noted favourable testimonials from UK employers, including one who said he wished he had Tony Walsh available to work with him now and more like him as he was an excellent worker.
“He expressed remorse and cooperated with gardaí. He was under a certain amount pressure [to carry the drugs]. There has been a 10-year interval where he was been doing well,” Judge Berkeley said.
A sentence of six years was imposed with the last two and a half years suspended.