Ex-army officer jailed for possession of 20 kilos of cannabis

Gerard Daily
Gerard Daily

A former army officer has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison after he “dealt with the devil” and got caught with almost €400,000 worth of herbal cannabis.

Father-of-two Gerard Daly had 12 years' service in the Defence Forces before being discharged from duty over his first drugs offence.

Daly (30), of Hillcrest Avenue, Lucan, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to possessing almost 20 kilograms of the drug for sale or supply at his home on April 22, 2013, along with 43 blank ammunition cartridges.

He told gardaí he had agreed to hold the drugs in return for €1,000 as he was financially hard up and “desperate”.

“He must have known that he was dealing with the devil,” said Judge Martin Nolan as he passed sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Nolan said although Daly had been at the lowest rung of the drug-dealing operation, he had committed a very grievous error of judgement.

“He knew what he was getting into. He made a decision to do it, he's going to prison,” he said.

Judge Nolan noted that Daly seemed to have been “very bright and confident” with “very good prospects” in his field.

The court heard Daly had passed out as a non-commissioned army officer two weeks before the offence.

Garda Dominic Downey told Tom Neville BL, prosecuting, that gardaí got a tip-off about a delivery of herbal cannabis.

A surveillance operation was mounted outside Daly's home in Lucan and gardaí saw a white Ford Transit parking outside. Two men got out and carried two large black bin bags into the house.

Gardaí obtained a search warrant and Daly gave them keys to open the shed where they found the black bin bags.

The bags contained 19.9kg of herbal cannabis which was valued at €20 a gram, with a total value of €399,260.

They also discovered a clip containing 43 blank rounds of ammunition.

Daly was arrested and told gardaí he had got a phone call asking could he store equipment in his shed.

Daly said when he asked what was in it, he was told “You don't want to know but there's €1,000 in it for you.”

“I took a chance and I regret it ever since,” said Daly, adding that he himself was an occasional cocaine user.

Daly has 17 previous convictions all for road traffic offences. Michael Bowman SC, defending, said all of Daly's previous offences stemmed from his long-running drink problem.

He said Daly had lived in an “alcohol-induced haze” until three months before the drugs offence when he decided to deal with his alcoholism.

The court heard Daly had been afraid to name the people who asked him to hold the drugs.

Mr Bowman pointed out that Daly does not live an ostentatious lifestyle associated with the trappings of drugs and criminality, but instead lives in a mobile home.

He said that in “one-hour's madness,” Daly had lost a relationship with his partner, the respect and standing of his family and his career in the army.