Cancer survivor jailed after €3.4m drug-smuggling bust

By Brion Hoban

A middle-aged man in remission from cancer, who transported over €3.4m worth of drugs into the country, has been jailed for seven years.

Bernardus Jozef Scherrenberg (47) of Hoevenbos, Zoetermeer, Holland, came forward on signed pleas of guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cocaine for sale or supply at the car park of B&Q, Liffey Valley shopping centre, Clondalkin on December 6, last.

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Judge Patricia Ryan sentenced Scherrenberg to seven years imprisonment, backdated to the day he first went into custody on this matter, December 6 last. He has no previous convictions.

Det Garda Stephen Gillespie told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that gardai received confidential information regarding a Peugeot car and on the date in question followed it to the shopping centre car park.

The accused arrived driving a Jeep and loaded five tubs into a shopping trolley and wheeled it over to the parked Peugeot.

Two men loaded the tubs into a hidden compartment in the car and were intercepted by gardai as they attempted to drive away.

Scherrenberg attempted to flee the scene and threw his mobile phone away before being caught by gardai.

Two additional tubs were discovered in the Jeep.

Each tub was filled with sand that hid packets of cocaine. The cocaine weighed 49kg and the total value of the drugs seized was €3,435,859.

Det Garda Gillepsie agreed with Seamus Clarke SC, defending, that his client did not believe he was transporting such a large amount of drugs, as he was due to be paid €2,000 for the job. Scherrenberg was also required to pay for ferry

tickets and accommodation himself.

Mr Clarke said his client was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015 and achieved complete remission following a stem cells transplant. Scherrenberg formerly worked as a truck-driver, is married and is responsible for the care of two children.

Judge Ryan said the mitigating factors in the case were his early plea, his admissions in interview, his lack of previous convictions, his medical condition and the fact that he is a foreign national imprisoned in a foreign country far away from the support of family or friends.

She said that without mitigating factors she would have considered a sentence of twelve years imprisonment.

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