'Criminal gang member' jailed for €36k of cocaine in Laois


'Criminal gang member' jailed for €36k of cocaine in Laois

A suspected “significant high level player in a criminal gang” caught with over €36,000 of cocaine has been given a seven-year prison sentence.

At Portlaoise Circuit Court, Brendan Kelly, 42, of 3 St Mary’s Road, Killinure, Co. Tipperary, was charged with an offence under section 15a of the misuse of drugs act, at Knocknamoe, Abbeyleix, on August 16, 2018.

Detective Sgt Declan Boland gave evidence, along with State barrister, Mr Will Fennelly, that the accused was being investigated by gardaí in the summer of 2018. The accused was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by gardaí on August 16 that year and searched. In the footwell of the vehicle was found a brown bag containing two plastic bags of cocaine.

518g of the drug were found, with an estimated value of €36,260.

His home was searched and drug paraphernalia was found, including bags, weighing scales, mixing agents and a tick list.

In interview, the accused told gardaí he had received €1,500 to drop the drugs off.

Det Boland said it was believed the accused was involved in illegal money lending. A phone was seized from the accused, which the court heard was used to engage with an organised criminal gang in Dublin.

The accused made admissions to using and selling cocaine. Notebooks were found in his house which indicated the accused was involved in drug dealing and money lending.

The accused had four previous convictions. In sentencing, Judge Keenan Johnson said that cocaine is a scourge of society that feeds into criminality.

The judge imposed a seven-year sentence, with the last two years suspended for five years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond; he remains under probation supervision; he abstains from illicit substances; and he attends for treatment for his drug addiction and gambling addiction.