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Green gold Jailed dealer Brian Collopy's wife flogs Christmas trees on road outside Limerick home

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HEROIN DEALER Brian Collopy’s clan have kept up the family’s Christmas tradition of flogging trees on the roadside outside their home in Co Limerick.

Our pictures show how the family have been flogging seven foot trees outside their fortified home where Brian’s wife Maria and children still live.

Maria (48), who primarily makes her living at markets and selling ice-creams from a purpose built van, is patiently waiting for her husband to be released from prison next year.

She first branched out into selling Christmas trees back in 2015.

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The Collopy home

The Collopy home

The Collopy home

The Collopy home

Liam Burke Press 22

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The Collopy home

Brian is serving eight years along with brother Kieran after they were caught with €38,000 of heroin.

In 2010, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) was forced to hand back over €15,000 to the Brian and Maria after they claimed they had earned it legitimately.

The money had been seized from the couple after they were stopped by Gardaí, but they claimed they got it as a gift, from the sale of horses and from Maria’s earnings from her ice cream van.

In 2005, CAB sold the Collopy's home at Fedamore for €225,000.

Maria is fiercely loyal to her family.

Her then 20-year-old son Kenneth was jailed for life in 2011 for the murder of Daniel Fitzgerald.

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Brian Collopy (left) and Kieran Collopy at Limerick District Court, where they were both sentenced to eight years in jail

Brian Collopy (left) and Kieran Collopy at Limerick District Court, where they were both sentenced to eight years in jail

Brian Collopy (left) and Kieran Collopy at Limerick District Court, where they were both sentenced to eight years in jail

The trial heard that the victim was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” when he was shot on December 8, 2009.

After the verdict was read out Maria left the courtroom with her daughters shouting: “Love you, Kenneth, love you no matter what.”

In 2015, her husband and his brother were under surveillance when they met with Paddy Mitchell – brother of George ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell – in a fast food outlet.

They were overheard discussing a heroin deal.

In December of that year, a drug squad stormed two adjoining houses in St Mary’s Park in Limerick.

Brothers Brian and Kieran Collopy were each "caught red handed" in the kitchen of a house, packing €37,000 worth of heroin, to be sold to wholesalers for distribution on the streets of Limerick.

The siblings had one previous conviction each for threatening to kill a man in Limerick.

Brian Collopy also had a prior conviction for simple possession of a small amount of drugs, for which he was previously fined €250.

In passing sentence, on one count of possessing heroin worth more than €13,000 for sale or supply, Judge Tom O'Donnell, presiding, said: "The State considers both accused man to be top of the criminal pyramid (in Limerick)."

The brothers were arrested following a covert Garda intelligence operation, led by Detective Sergeant Alan Cullen, head of the Limerick Divisional Drugs Squad.

Neither brother showed any reaction when they were led away to begin their lengthy jail terms.

The sentences were backdated to December 15, 2015, when both men were taken into custody after their arrest at St Mary's Park.

Judge O'Donnell said both men had to "take responsibility for their own actions."

He said the two Collopy brothers were "not used as mules or couriers acting under any form of duress", but they were "active participants at the highest level".

The two brothers were effectively caught packing heroin in a drug factory, the court heard.

"It was strictly a commercial enterprise," the judge said.

Judge O'Donnell said the two siblings were "involved in peddling drugs which were both dangerous and devastating to society."

"The court must treat this as a cold, calculating commercial operation," he said.

Outlining the aggravating factors in the case, the judge noted: "Heroin is highly addictive and insidious and is an absolute scourge on society."

"It can cause havoc and can have a disastrous grip on the (drug) users, and it also has a devastating effect on their families , and on society as a whole."

He added: "Some may take the view that €37,000 worth of heroin is not significant, but it is the view of the court that it is significant, given the nature of the drug."

The judge also noted that Brian Collopy had been merely 11 months out of prison after serving a six-year sentence, later reduced by the Court of Criminal Appeal, for threatening to kill a man in Limerick.

Previously gardai told the court the two Collopy brothers were at the top of the pyramid in the Limerick heroin distribution scene.


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