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dangerous people Dublin man who agreed to transport €160k of cannabis to pay off son's debt is jailed

John Fearon said he had been told his son “would be found in a ditch” if the debt was not paid

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John Fearon at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

John Fearon at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

John Fearon at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

A man who said he had agreed to transport almost €160,000 worth of cannabis in order to pay off his son’s drug debt has been jailed for two years.

John Fearon (55) of Coultry Green, Coultry Road, Ballymun, Dublin, had come forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on signed guilty pleas from the District Court.

He had been charged with having the drugs, valued at €159,438, for sale or supply in a vehicle in Ballymun on March 15, 2021. He had four previous convictions for minor convictions dating back 20 years.

Damien Colgan SC, defending. told the court that his client’s motivation was protection for his son who had previously been assaulted.

He said he had been threatened that his son “would be found in a ditch” if the debt was not paid and Fearon had already paid €2,000 off the debt.

Detective Garda Gavin Curran told Caroline Latham BL, prosecuting, that Fearon was stopped driving his brother’s van following a garda tip off. He immediately took responsibility for the drugs that were found in two black bags in the back of the van.

He told gardaí he had just collected the drugs and was due to deliver them to a chipper nearby. He said he had agreed to do this in order to pay off a €6,000 drug debt his son had built up. He said the debt was owed to “dangerous people”.

Det Gda Curran said Fearon had €1,020 in cash on him that day, but gardaí are satisfied it was not the proceeds of crime and Fearon was intending to buy a vehicle for work with the money.

Fearon took responsibility for a small amount of cannabis that was found in a follow up search of his home.

He said he was a recreational cannabis user. He told gardaí that he didn’t know what was in the bags he collected but he had assumed it was drugs.

Det Gda Curran agreed with Mr Colgan that Fearon works in the film industry and has travelled quite a bit since arrest, for work, but confirmed that he has complied with all his bail conditions.

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He further accepted that analysis of Fearon’s mobile phone was consistent with the account Fearon gave to gardaí in relation to his movements that day.

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John Fearon

John Fearon

John Fearon

Det Gda Curran accepted that Fearon had not come to garda attention since his arrest. He was not aware that Fearon had recently been divorced, but accepted that his other children have never come to garda attention.

Mr Colgan said his client had previously abused heroin and cocaine but rehabilitated.

Counsel accepted that they are serious offences, but asked the court to accept his client made admissions on the side of the road to the gardaí and followed on those admissions with signed pleas from the District Court.

Judge Melanie Greally set a headline sentence of six years. She said she was taking into account his early guilty pleas, the fact that Fearon has not come to garda attention in 20 years, his expression of remorse, a favourable probation report and the fact that he is a devoted family with “a pro-social outlook”.

Judge Greally imposed a sentence of three years but suspended the final 12 months of the sentence on strict conditions including that he engage with the Probation Service for 12 months upon his release from prison.

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