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State drops charge against man caught in possession of €2.5m worth of ecstasy

Bust: Byrne was caught in possession of  over 250,000 ecstasy tablets for sale or supply
Bust: Byrne was caught in possession of over 250,000 ecstasy tablets for sale or supply

The State has dropped a charge of possession of €2.5 million worth of ecstasy in light of last week’s Court of Appeal ruling.

The accused man, who was also found with a similar amount of cannabis, had already pleaded guilty to possessing over 250,000 ecstasy tablets for sale or supply in 2013.

Today counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions asked the court to withdraw the ecstasy charge and proceed solely on the cannabis counts.

Tony McGillicuddy BL for the DPP said the change was because of the “Bederev Judgement” in which the appeal court issued a ruling that ecstasy and other drugs were unconstitutionally banned.

The drugs concerned are now illegal again after emergency legislation was rushed through the Oireachtas. This is believed to be the second large scale ecstasy sale or supply case the State has dropped since the ruling.

Gary Byrne (42) of Belcamp Gardens Coolock, Dublin pleaded guilty to possession of a total of €2.52 million worth of cannabis resin and cannabis herb at Rosemount Business Park in Ballycoolin and North West Business Centre in Blanchardstown in June 2013.

He will be sentenced on Thursday by Judge Patricia Ryan at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Byrne has a previous conviction for stealing Rohypnol from the pharmaceutical firm he previously worked for.

At a sentencing hearing today Mr McGillicuddy presented evidence from the Garda National Drugs Unit that Byrne was the subject of a surveillance operation on June 4, 2013.

Gardaí followed his rented van to a lock-up in Ballycoolin. Officers waited for Byrne to leave the lock-up later that evening before arresting him and searching the unit where they found the cannabis and ecstasy.

The 78kgs of cannabis found had with a street value of €1.55 million. Byrne was interviewed and held in custody where he made some admissions.

Gardaí received information about a second lock-up in Blanchardstown which they searched two weeks later. They used Byrne’s keys to open the padlock and found documentation inside linking him to the rental of the unit.

They found just under a million euro worth of cannabis herb and resin as well as a vacuum packing machine and weigh scales. There were also indications Byrne was living there.

Byrne, who was in custody since the first seizure, was interviewed again and admitted renting the unit. He said he was addicted to Snow Blow and cocaine and was holding the drugs for others to repay a debt and fund his addiction.

Defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC said Byrne is married with three children and had a good work record until let go from his job in the pharmaceutical firm.

Counsel said his client is a good prospect for rehabilitation and asked the judge not to impose the presumptive mandatory minimum sentence of ten years.

Conor Gallagher