Dublin man jailed for possession of over €2.5m worth of cannabis

Byrne pleaded guilty to possession of over €2.5m worth of cannabis (File)
Byrne pleaded guilty to possession of over €2.5m worth of cannabis (File)

A man has been jailed for nine years for possession of €2.5 million worth of cannabis which was found in two Dublin lockups.

The prosecution in the case had previously dropped a charge of possession of €2.5 million worth of ecstasy in light of a recent Court of Appeal ruling.

Tony McGillicuddy BL for the DPP said the change was because of the “Bederev Judgement” in which the appeal court issued a ruling that ecstasy and other drugs were unconstitutionally banned.

Gary Byrne (42) of Belcamp Gardens Coolock, Dublin pleaded guilty to possession of a total of €2.52 million worth of cannabis resin and cannabis herb at Rosemount Business Park in Ballycoolin and North West Business Centre in Blanchardstown in June 2013.

Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced Byrne to 12 years with the final three years suspended. She took into account that he was not the owner of the drugs and was an addict himself.

Byrne has a previous conviction for stealing Rohypnol from the pharmaceutical firm he previously worked for.

At a sentencing hearing Mr McGillicuddy presented evidence from the Garda National Drugs Unit that Byrne was the subject of a surveillance operation on June 4, 2013.

Gardaí followed his rented van to a lock-up in Ballycoolin. Officers waited for Byrne to leave the lock-up later that evening before arresting him and searching the unit where they found the cannabis and ecstasy.

The 78kgs of cannabis found had a street value of €1.55 million. Byrne was interviewed and held in custody where he made some admissions.

Gardaí received information about a second lock-up in Blanchardstown which they searched two weeks later. They used Byrne’s keys to open the padlock and found documentation inside linking him to the rental of the unit.

They found just under a million euro worth of cannabis herb and resin as well as a vacuum packing machine and weigh scales. There were also indications Byrne was living there.

Byrne, who was in custody since the first seizure, was interviewed again and admitted renting the unit. He said he was addicted to Snow Blow and cocaine and was holding the drugs for others to repay a debt and fund his addiction.

Defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC said Byrne is married with three children and had a good work record until let go from his job in the pharmaceutical firm.

Counsel said his client is a good prospect for rehabilitation and asked the judge not to impose the presumptive mandatory minimum sentence of ten years.

Conor Gallagher