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Cannabis accused 'I did what I had to keep everyone safe' - court hears as man charged over €8m drugs haul

Garda Donoghue said a mobile phone was found with software used to encrypt messages which he believed to be used by organised crime groups to conduct illegal activities.

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Eric Lawlor pictured leaving Naas Courthouse where he appeared on drugs charges.  Photograph by Gerry Mooney

Eric Lawlor pictured leaving Naas Courthouse where he appeared on drugs charges. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

Eric Lawlor pictured leaving Naas Courthouse where he appeared on drugs charges. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

Two men have appeared in court charged in connection with an €8.2 million haul of cannabis and cocaine seized in Kildare this week.

At a sitting of Naas District Court yesterday evening it was heard Eric Lawlor, Cypress House, Bay Bush, Kildare is charged with five counts, including possession of 314 kilos of cannabis and 11kilos of cocaine for sale and supply and money laundering.

A co-accused Eugene Mulligan, Hillside Cottage, Carrigans Upper , Ballymote, Co Sligo, was charged with possession of 60 kilos cannabis after his car was stopped and searched by officers from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau at Kill Hill, Kill on 11 February.

Garda Donal Donoghue gave evidence of charge and caution of Mr Lawlor and objected to him being granted bail on the grounds of the seriousness of the alleged offences.

He said the charges arose from an intelligence led operation in which Mr Mulligan was stopped with the drugs which Gardai allege were collected at Cypress House.


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Eugene Mulligan at Naas District court

Eugene Mulligan at Naas District court

Eugene Mulligan at Naas District court

A subsequent search of the property revealed 314 kilos of cannabis in wooden crates, some of which were marked with the names of different types of cannabis. Also found was 11 kilos of suspected cocaine in a hidden compartment in a van on the property where €18,500 in cash was also seized.

Garda Donoghue said a mobile phone was found with software used to encrypt messages which he believed to be used by organised crime groups to conduct illegal activities.

The accused man, Mr Lawlor, lives alone at the property and by his own admission had accumulated a drug debt, was addicted to cocaine on which he spent €1400 a week, Garda Donoghue told the court. “He wasn’t on the radar prior to this operation.”

In reply to Mr Lawlor’s lawyer, Garda Donoghue agreed the accused man had said: “I did what I had to do to keep everyone safe.”

In the case of Mr Mulligan it was heard in relation to his bail application he was “a trusted member of this organised crime group.”

Garda Margarite Reilly gave evidence of his charge and caution and outlined the circumstances of his arrest.

She said the alleged cannabis was packed into 35 vacuum packed bags found five black plastic bags with a street value of €1.2 million.

Garda Reilly said that Gardai will allege that he had collected the cannabis herb from Cypress House.

In the case of both men Judge Desmond Zaidan refused bail and remanded them to appear again next week in court by video link.

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