Businessman had €45,000 of cannabis ‘foisted on him’

A businessman who had €45,000 worth of cannabis “foisted on him” when he met with drug dealers to intervene over a young man’s drug debt has received a suspended prison sentence.

 Joseph O’Brien (50) had gone to meet drug dealers acting as an intermediary for a young man who was “heavily indebted to drug dealers”, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice 2 October 2016

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

 The drug dealers then “foisted” the package of drugs on him and threatened him not to dispose of the drugs, Judge Melanie Greally said.

 O’Brien had driven his own camper van to meet the criminals on February 7, 2019 and Gardai had received a tip off that a camper van would be involved in a drugs transaction in a certain location in the city that night.

 Gardai carrying out surveillance observed a car parking up beside the van and a man putting a package into the van. In a follow up search of the van gardai found 7.5kg of cannabis resin in a black plastic bag.

 Detective Garda Judy McCormack told the court that the estimated street value of the drugs was €45,810. The court heard that after his arrest O’Brien told gardai that a young person he knew owed a €50,000 debt to “heavies, provos” and he was trying to help him out.

 O’Brien of Cloverhill Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty to possession of drugs for sale or supply.

 Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, told the court that after the car drove off his client tried to phone the person he had wanted to speak to. He was told if he got rid of the drugs “he would be shot”, counsel said.

 Judge Greally said this was a somewhat unusual case involving an otherwise “respectable” family man and grandfather who was also a “very pro-social member of the community”.

 She said O’Brien was a successful self-employed businessman whose catering business has been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.

 The judge said his actions were foolhardy but she didn’t believe that he intended to get involved in the holding the drugs.

 Taking his mitigating factors into consideration she set a sentence of two and a half years imprisonment. She suspended this on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

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