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Own goal Former League of Ireland footballer caught with €27k of cocaine jailed for three years

Gardai on patrol stopped Daniel Joyce (29) after noticing his 'erratic' driving. They searched the car and found the drugs and around €5,400 of cash

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A former League of Ireland footballer who was caught transporting over €27,000 of cocaine has been jailed for three years.

Gardai on patrol stopped Daniel Joyce (29) after noticing his “erratic” driving. They searched the car and found the drugs and around €5,400 of cash.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Joyce developed a cocaine habit following the conclusion of his playing career and at the time of the offence he had a drug debt of a few hundred euro.

Joyce of Johnswood Park, Ashbourne, Co Meath, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for sale or supply on the M50 northbound, Dublin, on July 17, 2020. He has 12 previous convictions, including convictions for road traffic and public order offences.

Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan said Joyce came to the attention of gardaí when he was driving “erratically” on the motorway, was stopped and the cocaine was found in the boot of his car.

Judge Nolan said gardaí were also of the view that Joyce had allowed his then address to be used for the cutting up and distribution of cannabis.

He said the accused created a drug debt by his own drug taking and tried to alleviate it by involving himself in the drugs trade. He said Joyce was a mature man who should have known better, but unfortunately committed a gross error of judgement.

Judge Nolan sentenced Joyce to three years imprisonment.

Garda Tommy McDaniel told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that when Joyce was stopped on the date in question, he appeared agitated and gardaí noticed a large amount of cash sticking out of his wallet.

Gda McDaniel said gardaí searched the car, finding a total of around €5,400 of cash in his wallet and in an envelope in the glovebox. They also discovered cocaine in the boot with a total value of €27,952.

Gardaí obtained a search warrant for his then address and during the subsequent search they found 14 empty bags believed to contain the remnants of cannabis.

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In interview with gardaí, Joyce explained that he had been asked to “do a drop-off” and park the car in Ashbourne. He said he did not know the value of the drugs and denied he was selling drugs himself.

He told gardaí he had the remaining €5,000 of a loan still be to be paid off and that he also had a drug debt of a few hundred euro. He said he was being paid €200 for his involvement.

Gda McDaniel agreed with Anne Rowland SC, defending, that her client was behind on his rent at the time due to losing his job as a result of the pandemic. He agreed her client has since sold his car and paid off his debt.

The garda agreed with counsel that her client played football for a number of years for League of Ireland clubs and had captained underage Republic of Ireland teams. He agreed Joyce was no longer playing professionally due to injury.

Ms Rowland said following the end of his playing career, her client developed a cocaine habit, which he could sustain as long as he was working.

Counsel said matters became difficult at the start of the pandemic as her client had previously been paid a lot more than the payment from the government after losing his job and his child was born around the same time. She said her client found himself “in a very difficult position”.

She said her client's son and the child's mother are completely dependent on him. She said her client is now completely clean of drugs.

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