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Man accepted on army rehab programme jailed for drug possession

Central Criminal Court
Central Criminal Court

A former Tesco manager who had been accepted on an army programme for the rehabilitation of offenders has been jailed for the possession of drugs.

Eoghan Conlon (24) of no fixed address pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to unlawful possession of cannabis for sale or supply at Larch Hill apartments, Santry on March 27, 2015.

Detective Garda Jonathan O'Leary told Paul Carroll BL, prosecuting, that the arrest was the result of a surveillance operation placed on the apartments.

During the operation garda observed the driver of one car walking up to a BMW car and handing over a large black bin bag to Conlon, who was a passenger in the BMW.

Gardai then moved to block the BMW as it tried to leave and Conlon got out and ran with the bag. The detectives chased and caught him.

The bag was found to contain a number of clear sealed packages. The Forensic Science Laboratory found each package contained a kilo of cannabis. The total value in the bin bag was just under €40,000.

Conlon has ten previous convictions, including nine for road traffic offences and one public order offence.

The court heard that in 2011 Conlon was attacked and stabbed in his left eye and lost the sight in this eye. He had previously hurled for Dublin but after the attack he began suffering from depression and started to abuse drugs.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said his client's involvement in this crime was as a result of a drug debt. He said Conlon had been a hard-working man since leaving school.

Since 2011 he worked in a Tesco store, where he rose to management level. An application to join the Irish Army was rejected because of his eye injury but Conlon was later accepted on a rehabilitation of offenders programme by the British Army.

Mr McGinn said he would still keep his place on this programme if he received a jail sentence of less than four years.

Judge Terence O'Sullivan said he accepted that Conlon was a foot solider rather than a ring leader in this operation.

He said the significant feature in this case was that the accused was a man who was "trying to resurrect himself to change his life circumstances."

“The army is prepared to give him a chance and I don’t think I should take that away from him," he said,” he said.

He imposed a sentence of three years imprisonment with the last nine months suspended on condition that he keep the peace and remains drug free while he is in prison and upon his release.

Before the sentence was imposed Mr McGinn said his client had stopped taking drugs and his "acceptance into the army is testament that he is ready to start a new life”.

He said that Conlon was not the target of the operation and that a much larger consignment of drugs was found at the address and his client was not being held responsible for this.

“He was a willing participant but not the mastermind behind this” counsel said.