Man caught driving van containing €780k worth of cannabis was ‘trying to pay off debt’
“He had to beg and borrow and he couldn't get it all repaid,” court was told.
A man has been sentenced to six years in prison after he was caught driving a van containing €780,000 worth of cannabis herb.
Christopher Graham (41) with an address at Upper Gloucester Place, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to possessing 39 kilos of the drug when he was stopped by gardaí at Mill Lane, Palmerstown, Dublin 20 on June 22 last.
Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday, Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted that Graham had no ownership of the drugs in question.
Judge Nolan said he also accepted the explanation given by Graham that he was transporting the cannabis in order to alleviate his own drug debt.
The judge said other mitigating factors included Graham's guilty plea and cooperation with gardaí, however, he said the quantity of the drugs was quite serious.
Garda Michael Ormond told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, gardaí had received confidential information on June 16 last and followed certain people across Dublin over several days.
On June 22, Graham was observed standing outside a pub in Palmerstown and meeting with the driver of a yellow Renault van. Gardaí saw Graham take possession of the van and drive it to an address at Rose Cottage, Mill Lane.
Graham went into the cottage and left a number of minutes later, driving away in the Renault van before he was intercepted by gardaí. The van was searched and gardaí seized the 39kg of cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €780,000.
Graham was arrested and told gardaí he was moving drugs because he had a cocaine debt. He has 65 previous convictions, of which the vast majority relate to minor road traffic offences.
John Dwyer SC, defending, said Graham lived with his partner and two children and worked for an industrial cleaning company. Mr Dwyer said his client used to take drugs between 2016 and 2019 and was in his own words “strung out on cocaine” but had spent time in custody and become drug free.
Counsel said Graham had accumulated a drug debt that was historic and had become dormant but that this debt had been “resuscitated.”
“He had to beg and borrow and he couldn't get it all repaid,” said Mr Dwyer.
The court heard that Graham's partner is on disability and that he is a dedicated father to their children. Mr Dwyer added that Graham had engaged with Coolmine therapeutic community and that the Probation Service were also willing to engage with him.
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