Jail for men found in possession of almost €1m worth of drugs
Brian Kelly was arrested and brought to Tallaght Garda Station

Jail for men found in possession of almost €1m worth of drugs

Two local men have been sentenced to a combined seven and half years in prison after being found in possession of just under one million euro worth of drugs, reports Claire Henry.

Vernon Loughran (59) of Oakdale Crescent, Firhouse, pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis and cocaine worth €840k after gardaí carried out a search of his home on March 12 2020.

Brian Kelly (60) of Kilmartin Avenue, Fettercairn, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to having cannabis worth €159k in a van that he was driving earlier that day.

Dublin Circuit Criminal court heard that gardaí received confidential information that Kelly would be transporting drugs in his van on that date.

Garda Padraic Rowan gave evidence that he took up surveillance of Kelly’s van at Loughran’s house at Oakdale Crescent.

The white Renault van reversed into the driveway, and Kelly went into the house and left carrying a large brown box which he placed into the van. Gardaí followed the van and approached Kelly at a petrol station shop in Rathcoole.

Garda Rowan told Fiona Crawford, BL, prosecuting, that the van was searched and a box containing eight large vacuumed packed packages was seized.

Two mobile phones, one of which was a burner phone, were also seized. Kelly was arrested and brought to Tallaght Garda Station.

The court heard that during his interview, Kelly outlined that he was sorry for what he did, that it was wrong and that he took full responsibility for the drugs. The drugs were analysed, and cannabis worth €159,922 were found. Kelly told gardaí that he became involved in transporting the drugs as his nephew had a drug debt of €30,000, and he believed his nephew was in personal danger.

Gardaí then obtained a search warrant for Loughran’s house. Loughran was not home at the time of the search but he later presented himself for interview with gardaí.

The court heard that Loughran had become involved due to his habitual cannabis use and had gotten into debt. As a result, he allowed his home be used as a base to store and distribute drugs.

During the search, drugs worth €840,000 were found at the house and combined with drugs seized in Kelly’s van, drugs worth just under one million euros were seized in total.

Anne Rowland, SC, defending Kelly, said her client was a married man with six children. As a result of his drug use, his marriage broke down, and he became homeless.

He is now in a long-term relationship and worked as a security supervisor at the Citywest vaccination centre during the covid-19 pandemic.

She said he is also a Stardust survivor and suffers from survivor’s guilt. He has now overcome his drug addiction and provides for his children.

Garnet Orange, SC, defending Loughran, said his client had financial difficulties due to problems with alcohol and cannabis, and it was his cannabis habit that drew him into holding drugs. Counsel said he has a high level of remorse and shame for his actions and pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Judge Melanie Greally said that Kelly had a much more confined role and was trying to alleviate his nephew’s difficulties.

She took into account as mitigating factors, his immediate admissions of guilt, his high level of remorse and his lack of relevant previous convictions, as well as his family circumstances, his employment history, his relationship history, his role in animal welfare and his success in overcoming his drug addictions.

She sentenced Kelly to thirty months in prison.

In sentencing Loughran, Judge Greally outlined the significant value of the drugs stored at his address. She said he was “storing and arranging the distribution of drugs” with the motivation to reduce his drug debt.

Judge Greally took into account as mitigating factors, his guilty plea, his cooperation and absence of relevant previous convictions, his high level of remorse and shame and his relief in being detected which brought his offending to an end.

She also noted his favourable engagement with the probation and psychological services and that he is at moderate risk of re-offending.

Judge Greally sentenced Loughran to six years in prison with the final twelve months suspended.

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