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Man busted with van full of drugs after being spotted driving on phone

Greenhills Road
Greenhills Road

A man transporting drugs in his van in order to pay off a gambling debt was caught after a garda spotted him using his mobile phone while driving, a court had heard.

John O'Keefe (26) ran up gambling debts after falling into depression following the death of his father in 2011. He was to be paid €200 for transporting the drugs valued at over €7,000.

O'Keefe, of Windmill Avenue, Crumlin, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of drugs for sale or supply at Greenhills Road, Tallaght on April 11, 2016.

He has 16 previous convictions, ten of which are for district court drugs offences.

The court heard his previous drugs convictions all arise from one incident for which he received a ten month suspended sentence.

Garda Stephen Connor told Sinead McGrath BL, prosecuting, that he stopped O'Keefe after spotting him using his mobile phone while driving his van towards the city centre.

He said O'Keefe was acting “extremely nervous” and there was a strong smell of cannabis.

Gardai searched the van and recovered a bag containing 248 MDMA or “ecstasy” tablets, valued at €2,480, and a bag of cannabis herb, valued at €4,734.

O'Keefe told gardaí he had gambling debts and was being paid €200 to move the drugs which he had picked up about half an hour before.

He was not aware of the value of the drugs and said he did not know who he was doing it for.

Gda Connor agreed with George Burns BL, defending, that the drugs were not broken down in any way and that there were no other “paraphernalia” in the van.

Mr Burns said O'Keefe's father had died in 2011 and his client lapsed into depression.

He began gambling at roulette machines in bookmakers, losing up to €1,000 per day.

He said O'Keefe was “a different man now” who has been engaging with Gambler Anonymous and has not gambled for one year.

Since the offence O'Keefe has completed a CE scheme and secured employment.

Counsel handed in testimonials on O'Keefe's behalf and said his client had also done voluntary work in his community.

He outlined that O'Keefe had been assessed as having an extremely low IQ which led to difficulty thinking through the consequences of his actions.

Judge Karen O'Connor adjourned the case to October 25, 2017 next for finalisation to allow a probation report be prepared.