Grandfather involved in €500,000 cannabis operation gets eight years

John Wilson was sentenced on Friday
John Wilson was sentenced on Friday

A Dublin grandfather has been jailed for eight years for his involvement in a €528,000 cannabis operation dating back to 2008.

John Wilson (56) took a bench warrant on his trial date in 2011, but was rearrested in England earlier this year for the cannabis offence.

Detective Sergeant Emmet Casserly revealed that Wilson had just been released from a five year sentence in the UK for conspiring to supply cannabis when he was brought back to Dublin.

Wilson, of Oliver Bond Street, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing 88kg of cannabis at Forrest Little Road, Swords on August 8, 2008.

His ten previous Irish convictions include robbery and firearms offences dating from 1975 to 1993.

Det Sgt Casserly told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that he and colleagues had set up surveillance on a lorry arriving from Liverpool and driven by co-accused Joseph Douglas (38).

The surveillance team followed Douglas's lorry to The Naul Road near Dublin Airport, where it was joined by Wilson and his brother, Robert (51), in a white pickup truck.

Another man, James Griffin (48), arrived in a Renault van and 19 packages containing 370 slabs of cannabis were loaded into his vehicle.

Gardai intercepted as Douglas drove his lorry away from the scene and all four men were arrested.

Det Sgt Casserly told Mr Hayes that colleagues linked John Wilson's phone to an unknown party, who in turn had contacted Griffin.

The detective sergeant said Wilson accepted during interview that he owned the phone and the pickup truck.

Robert Wilson, of Oliver Bond Street, received a ten year sentence in 2011, with the final two years suspended for his role in the crime.

Douglas, of Killyfinla Heights, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, and Griffin, of Adare Road, Coolock, were both jailed for eight years for the same offence.

Det Sgt Casserly agreed with Sean Gillane SC, defending, that there had been a person above John Wilson “guiding matters” during the cannabis operation.

He further accepted that Wilson had “buried his head in the sand” by taking a bench warrant and “continued to dig” when he committed a similar offence in England in 2012.

Mr Gillane submitted to Judge Martin Nolan that the “sad thing” was that if his client had met the Irish case straight away “he might have been looking at it in the rearview mirror” by now.

He asked the judge to be lenient on Wilson.

Judge Nolan said Wilson deserved the same sentence as his co-accused and imposed an eight year sentence, backdated to February of this year.

By Aoife Nic Ardghail