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Own goal Former professional footballer Keith Quinn jailed for four years over €3m heroin bust

He was arrested after gardaí dressed as couriers delivered a suspect package to the logistics company he managed which contained heroin with a street value of over €2,769,000.

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Keith Quinn

Keith Quinn

Keith Quinn

A former Irish professional footballer who had nearly €3m worth of heroin  delivered to his workplace after developing a gambling addiction has been jailed for four years. 

This morning Dublin Circuit Court heard that Keith Quinn (32) acted as a "conduit" in the drug supply and was targeted to pay off a gambling debt he had built up.

He was arrested after gardaí dressed as couriers delivered a suspect package to the logistics company he managed which contained heroin with a street value of over €2,769,000.

Quinn, a father-of-one from Monastery Gate Avenue in Clondalkin, Dublin, previously pleaded guilty to possession of drugs with intent to supply.

Det Gda Liam Aherne, of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), outlined the circumstances surrounding the investigation to the court.

He said that on August 1, 2020, UK police became aware of a suspicious package transiting from the Netherlands through the UK and on to Ireland.

Tests were carried out which determined the package contained heroin, and gardaí were notified while the parcel continued its delivery route.

Gardaí obtained the use of uniforms, a van and a scanner from UPS and delivered the package to a warehouse in west Dublin, the court heard.

Evidence was given that the package was labelled 'Keith' and that, after receiving the delivery, Quinn took a picture of the parcel and sent it to another man.

The detective told prosecuting counsel John Berry BL that this individual texted back saying: “do nothing until I get there.”

Det Gda Aherne said a surveillance operation was put in place and the two men were observed driving to another warehouse in the business park before Quinn entered the premises with a package and left empty handed.

The men were then arrested at a cafe nearby, and a later search of the warehouse led to 20 packages wrapped in brown tape being found, which contained 19.8kg of heroin with an estimated street value of €2,769,130.

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Det Gda Aherne said that during a search of Keith Quinn's home pamphlets for Gamblers Anonymous were recovered and that the accused accepted in interviews that he had a gambling problem.

During interview Quinn said that the issue had let to him splitting up with his partner, who is the mother of his young daughter.

The court heard a co-accused is currently before the courts in relation to the matter and that it is the State's case that there was a pattern of communication between the two men prior to the drugs seizure.

Det Gda Aherne agreed with defense counsel Michael O'Higgins SC that his client was a "reasonable target" due to his gambling problem and because of the distribution premises where he worked as a manager.

Mr O'Higgins said his client had a "very significant gambling addiction" and was a conduit in the offence, adding that Keith Quinn was selected as a target because there was "a hold over him by virtue of the debts he accrued".

The defendant's brother Alan Quinn, who also played for Sheffield United, was called to the witness box to speak on behalf of the Quinn family.

He said him, Keith and another brother Stephen, had moved over to England at different stages to play professional football.

He said that Keith looked up to him and Stephen, who played for Ireland, and that Keith wanted to go down that route before suffering a knee injury.

Following the passing of their mother at the age of 18 Keith Quinn returned to Ireland. He has since played for a number of League of Ireland teams including Shelbourne and Cork City.

Alan Quinn said his brother was "sucked in" to this crime because of his gambling problems and that, while the family do not condone what he did, they believe that everyone should get a second chance.

Judge Pauline Codd said that aggravating factors in the case were the involvement of heroin and the value of the drugs seized.

She said that, while Keith Quinn was not benefiting financially, he was a cog who provided an important part in the distribution of drugs.

Judge Codd also said that by using his workplace for the drugs to be delivered he breached the trust of his employer.

The judge said that Quinn was under pressure at the time of the offending and took into account his early guilty plea, his expressions of remorse and shame, his gambling addiction, and his lack of previous convictions.

She imposed a sentence of seven and a half years, and suspended the last three and a half years, meaning Quinn was handed down a total term of four years.

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