Drug lord loses appeal against 13-year sentence for possession of cannabis

Alan Boggans
Alan Boggans

A Dublin man has lost an appeal against conviction for possession of €1.9m worth of cannabis.

Alan Boggans (39) of Keelogue House, Peamount Road, Newcastle, pleaded not guilty to possessing over €1.9m worth of cannabis resin for sale or supply at Celtic Truck Wash and Park, College Road, Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole on September 1 2009.

He was found guilty by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment by Judge Patrick McCartan on June 24 2013.

The Court of Appeal dismissed Boggans' appeal against conviction today.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the court was satisfied that Boggans received a fair trial in accordance with law.

Giving background to the case, Mr Justice Sheehan said the Garda National Drugs Unit put in place a surveillance operation in the Rathcoole area of Dublin on the occasion in question which was focused focused on Boggans

A van driven by Boggans' brother was observed entering the premises of Celtic Truck Wash and Parking and about 20 minutes later Boggans himself was seen driving into the premises in a silver BMW vehicle followed by a taxi.

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The gardaí decided to obtain a search warrant and, having ascertained that a judge was unavailable for some hours and a Peace Commissioner was not at home, they applied to garda Superintendent for a warrant pursuant to section 26 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Upon the gardaí's entrance to the premises, Boggans and his brother-in-law were observed looking around the side of the white Mercedes van. They ran and were stopped by gardaí.

Drugs were found in the white Mercedes van in boxes, some of which had been opened. Fingerprints were found inside the van which matched those of Boggans'.

In addition, two mobile phones connected to Boggans were recovered and showed contact between a third phone taken from his brother-in-law up to and after the white Mercedes van arrived at the premises.

Boggans told gardaí during interviews that he was at the premises to buy repossessed cars, the judgment stated.

Counsel for Boggans, Peter Finlay SC, had submitted that the Superintendent who issued the warrant was not an independent party. He also submitted that the urgency required to issue such a warrant did not exist and and the Superintendent could not have properly considered the matter because he issued it within one minute of being asked to do so.

It was clear, the judgment stated, that Boggans' arrival at the premises made entering the premises a matter of great urgency for the gardaí. It was doubtful that they had to make an effort to apply to a District Court judge or Peace Commissioner but they made such efforts.

It was wrong to characterise the evidence as being contrived in the sense that procedures could have been put in place at an earlier stage, the court held.

Regardless, Boggans' presence on the premises was necessary for any application of a warrant.

He was unable to invoke any proprietary or Constitutional interest because the premises in this case were a commercial premises owned by a third party, the judgment stated.

The Court held that Boggans' challenge to the warrant must fail. The warrant was necessary for the proper investigation of a drug trafficking offence and the urgency was so great that there was need for the immediate issue of a search warrant.

While Boggans may have established some doubt as to whether Detective Garda Carroll was present at the premises when he was first stopped, it was of no avail. There was a warrant in existence at the time authorising he be searched.

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The court held that in the circumstances of the case, the authority of the search warrant was not exceeded “when, for very good reasons other members of the search and surveillance team entered minutes before Detective Garda Carroll”.

Boggans' further submitted that his trial was unsatisfactory on four other grounds – the absence of full disclosure, the trial judge's refusal to allow CCTV footage to be played during cross-examination, allegedly unfair interventions by the trial judge and his failure to discharge the jury.

Mr Justice Sheehan, who sat with President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice Seán Ryan, and Mr Justice John Edwards, dismissed all grounds of appeal.