'Family man' who held drugs worth over €500,000 for €500 jailed

'Family man' who held drugs worth over €500,000 for €500 jailed

A “family man” who agreed to hold drugs valued at over half a million euro in return for €500 after falling into financial difficulties has been jailed for four years.

John Barnes (48) was “vulnerable” and in financial trouble after having a €42,000 judgement made against him in a Revenue matter. He was also in ill health having suffered a stroke and heart attack.

Barnes, of The Bottleworks Apartments, O'Hurley Avenue, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis and cocaine at his home on October 17, 2015.

The married father of two has two minor previous convictions dating back to 1992.

The court heard that gardai acting on confidential information searched Barnes home and two vehicles linked to him. They recovered cocaine and cannabis herb with a total value of €522,400.

Barnes accepted responsibility for the drugs and told gardai he was to be paid €500 for holding the drugs which he had recently picked up. He had not been paid at the time of his arrest.

Judge Karen O'Connor noted that Barnes had not been on the garda radar and had no relevant previous convictions. She noted “very impressive” testimonials had been handed into court outlining his extensive work history and contributions to his community.

She said he was vulnerable due to his financial circumstances and had taken “an enormous risk for small reward”. She noted drugs caused “immeasurable pain, destruction and suffering” in society.

Judge O'Connor imposed a seven year sentence but suspended the final three years on condition he be of good behaviour and undergo one year probation supervision on his release.