NewsCrime Desk

Off-duty garda's suspicions led to €1.3 million cannabis seizure


A father and son caught possessing cannabis worth €1.3 million, after off-duty garda became suspicious of lorry driver looking for bogus address, have appeals against their prison sentences dismissed.

Michael Devlin Snr (61), of St Finian's Park, Drogheda and Michael Devlin Jnr (40) of Rathmullen Park, Drogheda, had both pleaded guilty at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis for sale or supply at Cartown, Termonfeckin on September 20, 2013.

Devlin Snr was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with the final four suspended while Devlin Jnr was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge Michael O'Shea on October 24, 2014.

The father and son lost an appeal against the severity of their sentences today with the Court of Appeal unable to conclude that any error had been established.

Giving judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham said an off-duty garda was out cycling when he was flagged down by a lorry driver with very little English looking for directions.

The off-duty garda immediately became suspicious because he had served in the area and did not recognise the company the driver was looking for, or the address.

He alerted his colleagues.

The lorry and container were placed under observation. The Devlins were seen to rendezvous with the lorry and they proceeded in convoy to an industrial estate.

Gardaí moved in and found 262 packages containing 65.5 kg of cannabis worth €1.3 million.

Devlin Jnr, a father-of-five had 11 previous convictions.

He had a long history of drug abuse and developed a heroin addiction in 2009.

He explained that a quantity of heroin he was required to mind had gone missing and this offence arose out a need to clear a €10k debt.

Devlin Snr had 17 previous convictions some of which were related to the situation as prevailed in Northern Ireland some decades ago, the judge said.

Neither of them had any drugs related convictions.

Mr Justice Birmingham said Devlin Snr became involved at the behest of his son and was acting out of a “misplaced sense of family loyalty”.

Devlin Jnr was described as being ashamed and remorseful for having gotten his father involved in such a matter.

The offence was distinguishable from many other section 15A cases, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

It was not a case of someone being asked to transport a consignment from A to B nor the case of mules or gardeners.

In contrast, it was a sophisticated operation. The lorry with overseas registration was met and there were others at the yard to receive delivery.

The sentencing judge accepted that the Devlins were not what he categorised as “drug barons”.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the court could not conclude that the sentences imposed fell outside of the range available to the Circuit Court judge.

Accordingly, their appeals were dismissed.