Mountrath man and Dublin musician jailed for having €400,000 of cannabis for sale

'Small cogs in much larger criminal enterprise' given six years with portion suspended

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The lead singer of a Dublin rock band and a Mountrath man have both received six year sentences, with a portion of the sentences suspended, for drug offences which include having €400,000 of cannabis herb for sale or supply.

David Griffin (39), Drimnagh, Dublin 12, and Daniel Burke (37), Mountrath, were described by Judge Keenan Johnson as “acting as intermediaries for the drug lords” and “merely small cogs in a much larger criminal enterprise”, when they were sentenced today (Thursday, April 19), at Portlaoise Circuit Court.

The two men appeared in connection with a haul of drugs seized by gardaí in Laois including €400,000 of cannabis, €1,085 of cocaine, and €13,640 of a head shop product known as PVP.

The men had been remanded in custody since last Tuesday, April 10, after evidence was given to the circuit court by Sgt Brian Farrell, along with State barrister, Mr Will Fennelly.

On February 24, 2017, at the M7 at Doon, Borris in Ossory, a black Ford Focus driven by David Griffin was stopped by gardaí and searched, with 20 kilos of cannabis found in black bags with some of it concealed in a musical drum in the boot. The total value of the drug was €400,000.

It was established that Griffen had received the cannabis from Burke in a handover at a service station in Kildare.

The gardaí searched Daniel Burke’s house on February 25, 2017, and found various quantities of white powder.

Sgt Farrelly said there were two different types of drugs present: three packages containing 15g of cocaine valued at €1,085, and four bags containing 272g of PVP, a former head shop product, valued at €13,640. Cash was also found, twenty €50 notes.

Griffin told gardaí that he was to deliver the cannabis as he had to clear drug debts, while Burke said he had built up a drug debt of between €8,000 and €9,000.

The court heard that as well as being the singer with Dublin-based group, New Secret Weapon, Griffin organises music concerts the proceeds of which go to help drugs charities such as Merchants Quay. He had five previous convictions, all road traffic matters.

Burke had four previous convictions, including drugs. The court heard he works as a bouncer.

Judge Johnson said there was no doubt this was a very serious offence, given the large quantity of cannabis involved.

He noted that both men are now drug free and said: “It is accepted by the prosecution that each of the accused were acting as intermediaries for the drug lords behind the drug trade who reap the profits from it. Neither of the accused were main players in the operation, but merely small cogs in a much larger criminal enterprise.”

Judge Johnson imposed a six year sentence on each man, with the final four years and six months suspended for six years in respect of David Griffin, and the final four years suspended in respect of Daniel Burke, on condition they enter into a peace bond to keep the peace for six years post release; they remain under probation supervision for 18 months post release; they refrain from consuming illicit substances during the period of probation; and they each pay €5,000, in two annual installments of €2,500, to the Merchants Quay drug rehabilitation project in Portlaoise.

The judge said the reason the suspended period of the sentence was shorter for Burke was because as well as the cannabis he had possession of the other two drugs and also had previous drugs convictions.

“Each of the accused made a bad decision when they allowed themselves to become involved in the offending and unfortunately they must now suffer the consequences of that bad decision,” said Judge Johnson.