Man missing, presumed murdered jailed over massive Kinahan drug haul

Gardai at the Slade Valley Equestrian Centre after the drug find in 2002
Gardai at the Slade Valley Equestrian Centre after the drug find in 2002

A man who disappeared in 2004 and thought to have been killed by the Kinahan Cartel over a massive drugs seizure has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years over the haul.

Raymond Molloy (55) spent 11 years on the run, living and working in the Isle of Wight, before being extradited back to Ireland and pleading guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply in Dublin on August 16, 2002.

The former equestrian centre manager, who was “renowned in the world of horses” has been given the sentence for the possession of over €6 million worth of cannabis resin.

Sergeant Michael Phelan told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting, that gardai stopped a van, driven by Molloy, in Coolock, as part of an ongoing surveillance operation, and recovered 498kg of cannabis resin, with a street value at the time of €6.34 million.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Molloy, who has no previous convictions, had been approached by a number of individuals, one of whom was a family member, who proposed establishing the Slade Valley Equestrian Centre.

These people in the gardai's view, “targeted” him because of his in depth knowledge of horses.

Sgt Phelan said that Molloy, previously of Hollywood, Co Wicklow, returned home from abroad to find an unfamiliar van parked at the equestrian centre. One of his business partner's then “put him under pressure to collect a second van from a nearby pub, bring it to the equestrian centre, and load it with cannabis,” he said.

It was while driving the van containing the cannabis resin that gardai stopped and arrested him and seized the drugs.

Mr Orange said that while in custody Molloy told gardai he knew “something bogey was going on”.

“As the investigation went on it became apparent he (Molloy) had a very good idea of what was happening,” Sgt Phelan said.

Molloy was due to stand trial in 2004 but failed to appear, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Gardai issued a missing person appeal and it was widely believed that Molloy had been killed by the Kinahans to prevent him speaking at his trial.

Eleven years later, in April 2015, gardai received information that he was living and working in the Isle of Wight. He was then extradited back to Ireland to face trial.

Orla Crowe SC, defending, told the court that Molloy was taken advantage of, and that threats and duress were exerted on him.

“He was told that his horse's throats would be slit if he did not do as he were told,” she said.

The court heard that he was not a man of means, had never been in trouble before and was not a member of a criminal enterprise.

“A thirty minute situation lead to enormous ramifications for an otherwise law abiding citizen,” she said.

Sgt Phelan said that Molloy was “one hundred percent genuine with us” and was “involved at the lowest possible level.”

The court heard that since his arrest in 2002 Molloy has made several attempts on his life and received psychiatric treatment due to a serious deterioration in his mental health.

Judge Martin Nolan said that Molloy was mature enough when the offence occurred to decide whether or not to involve himself in the operation.

“He didn't make the right decision, he made a huge error of judgement and went on the run until the wheels of justice began to turn,” he said.

He gave Molloy credit for his early guilty plea, his co-operation with gardai and his admissions.

“He didn't know who he had involved himself with, he didn't know they were shady,” he said.

Judge Nolan said he accepted that Molloy had paid a price for his actions in that he had lived in fear these past number of years, but said that a custodial sentence of six and a half years was the correct punishment given the “very serious nature of the crime”.

Another man involved in the operation, David Dempsey, was also charged with drug offences relating to the seizure of the cannabis resin in Coolock, firearms offences and in relation to the discovery of additional cannabis resin at his home.

Dempsey was convicted and sentenced to eight years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 2003.