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Legal challenge State appeals jail sentence given to ex footballer over €2.7m heroin bust

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has now lodged an appeal against that sentence on the grounds that it was unduly lenient.

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Keith Quinn

Keith Quinn

Keith Quinn

The State has launched an appeal against the prison sentence given to a former professional footballer who was caught with almost €3m worth of heroin.

Former Sheffield United player Keith Quinn (32) was arrested last year during a surveillance operation after gardaí received a tip-off from UK police.

In April he was jailed for a total of four years after admitting to possession of over €2.7m worth of heroin for sale or supply.

Dublin Circuit Court heard he was a “conduit” in the drug enterprise and was targeted because of a gambling debt he accrued.

Quinn, of Monastery Gate Avenue in Clondalkin, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years imprisonment, with the final three-and-a-half years suspended.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has now lodged an appeal against that sentence on the grounds that it was unduly lenient.

The case has been listed for hearing before the Court of Appeal next December.

He was on the books at Sheffield United before suffering a knee injury, and later played for League of Ireland teams including Shelbourne and Cork City. Keith Quinn is also the younger brother of Irish internationals Alan and Stephen.

He was arrested after undercover detectives dressed as couriers delivered a package to the logistics company where he worked in west Dublin.

Det Gda Liam Aherne, of the GNDOCB, told the sentencing hearing 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.

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.

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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.

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".

During the sentencing hearing Alan Quinn told the court that his brother was “sucked in” to the crime because of his gambling problems.

He added that, while the family did not condone what Keith Quinn 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, before jailing him for four years.

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