Chronic gambler caught with €117,912 worth of cannabis herb jailed for five years

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A man with a chronic gambling addiction has been sentenced to five years in jail after he was caught with €117,912 worth of cannabis herb.

Jody Vij (35) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing the drug for sale or supply on May 17, 2008 at Carraig Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Vij, of Royal Terrace East, Dun Laoghaire, told gardaí he had bought 10kg of cannabis for €60,000 and intended to sell it on at €2,000 profit per kilo.

He described himself as a “heavy gambler” who spent between €500 and €600 a day betting.

Garda Val Russell told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that gardaí got confidential information about a drugs delivery and stopped a car in Dalkey.

Vij took responsibility for a hold-all bag on the backseat containing 20 packages of herbal substance.

Further quantities of the drug were found at a house on Park Avenue, Glenageary and at Castleforbes Business Park, where Vij rented out rehearsal space to music bands.

Gardaí found betting slips and a Star newspaper on which Vij had written lists of names with amounts of money beside them.

Michael Lynn SC, defending, said Vij was under threat after he was charged and arrested, and left the jurisdiction.

“He was at the mercy of those higher up,” he said.

Mr Lynn said his client took the “unusual step” of writing to gardaí and explaining what he was doing when he left the country.

Gardaí accepted that Vij has been under serious duress and that shots had been fired at his mother's house and threatening phone calls made to her. Vij returned to Ireland last year and handed himself in.

The court heard he is dealing with his gambling problem and has been assessed by the Rutland Centre as being suitable for a residential programme.

Vij's mother, Shirley Ireland, told the court that her son had been like any other child until he got a summer job in a bar in his late teens.

She said the other barmen would send her son to put bets in bookies, and that she thought his gambling problems dated from then.

Testimonials handed into court spoke of Vij as a loyal friend and a decent person who had been thrown off the rails by his gambling condition.

Judge Martin Nolan said Vij had been an active participant in the large scale distribution of drugs, which he described as a “pretty reprehensible activity.”