Father-of-three agreed to collect over €300k earned from drug dealing
A father-of-three who agreed to collect over €300,000 earned from drug dealing and hide it in a rented Dublin apartment has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Mark Connolly (44) told gardai he had agreed to pick up the cash to pay off a €4,000 debt, run up from his own cocaine habit.
He had successfully completed six runs when he walked into the apartment as gardai were searching it, having received a tip-off that criminals were storing cash there.
Detective Sergeant Declan O’Connell told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that the cash was found hidden behind a slightly concealed panel in a wardrobe in a bedroom. A total of €291,790 was found rolled and placed in three separate bags.
Connolly had a further €19,950 in a rucksack when he came into the apartment.
Connolly, of Harelawn Park, Clondalkin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing €311,000, while knowing or believing it was the proceeds of crime at Beacon South Quarter, Sandyford, on May 4, 2017.
He has minor convictions for road traffic offences from 2005.
Judge Melanie Greally said Connolly played “an extremely important and pivotal role at a relatively responsible level” in the operation.
She gave him credit for his guilty plea, co-operation, that he was under financial pressure at the time and he is now deemed at low risk of re-offending.
Judge Greally imposed a five year sentence with the final two-and-a-half years suspended.
The court heard Connolly told gardai he couldn’t afford to pay off his cocaine debt.
He was offered this job and €300 would be knocked off his debt for each completed run.
He had been given keys to the apartment and a phone and would be given instructions as to where and when to collect the cash.
He was also responsible for counting, rolling and storing it in the wardrobe in the apartment.
Connolly acknowledged that he knew the money probably came from drugs.
He said he had refused to transport drugs but accepted that he agreed to collect the cash knowing where it had come from.
Det Sgt O’Connell agreed with Barry Ward BL, defending, that his client was not known to him prior to his arrest. He accepted that Connolly had being collecting the cash for a week before he was caught.
Det Sgt O’Connell also agreed that Connolly was not likely to come before the courts again, was co-operative and gave a very good account of what he had done and how he had got involved in the whole scheme.
“He was honest about his involvement in the operation. He was a pleasure to deal with,” he replied.
Mr Ward said his client understood what he was doing and regretted his involvement. He has been seeing a counsellor on a weekly basis since last October to give him some insight as to what brought him into this situation.
Counsel said Connolly understood the impact it had had on his family.
“His conduct since he was caught has also been exemplary. Faced with the reality of what he has done he has put himself back on the straight and narrow. There is no cocaine addiction anymore and he is unlikely to be an issue for gardai again,” Mr Ward submitted.