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Thursday 2 October 2014

Former garda jailed for dealing cocaine and trying to frame someone for car theft and fraud

Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher

Published 01/05/2014 | 15:05

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Former Garda Stephen Cooper
Former Garda Stephen Cooper
Courts of Criminal Justice

A former garda has been jailed for three years for a string of offences including dealing cocaine, attempting to frame someone for car theft and insurance fraud.

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Stephen Cooper (29), who was a member of the force when the offences took place, also allowed a friend take the blame when gardai found the drug LSD during a search at the Electric Picnic music festival. Cooper of The Green, Kingswood Heights, Tallaght pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at the festival between September 5, 2009 and September 2, 2010 by knowingly allowing Luke Barnett to be wrongfully prosecuted on September 2, 2010.

Cooper was also charged with stealing a bag of cannabis herb worth €560 from Sundrive Garda Station on May 27, 2010 but this count was withdrawn by the prosecution.

Last month, Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded Cooper in continuing custody and adjourned the matter until today. The sentencing was previously adjourned after evidence was heard in March.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today Judge Ring noted Cooper was a drug addict but that he held a privileged position in society. She said that drugs can led otherwise law-abiding people to commit crimes “and this no doubt applies to An Garda Síochána.”

Before passing sentence she described Cooper’s actions as a fundamental breach of the role of the gardaí and said that Cooper threatened a completely innocent member of the public into making false claims.

“This does a serious diservice to the public and to Mr Cooper’s then collegaues who seek to conduct themselves within the letter of the law,” the judge commented.

In mitigation, she noted he is highly regarded by members of the community and is now drug free and recently married. She also took into account that he has now lost his job and that, as a former garda, prison will be more difficult on him.

Cooper pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice between August 19, 2010 and October 21, 2011 when he attempted to get Stephanie Lynch to make a false statement implicating Wayne Finane in the theft of a car.

He also pleaded guilty to deception of Axa Insurance on November 12, 2010 by making a false insurance claim. Cooper made a false report to gardai that the canopy of his jeep had been stolen when in fact it had blown off the car while he was driving along the M50 motorway on September 15, 2010.

Cooper further pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for sale or supply at Ormond Quay on January 31, 2011.

Irish Independent

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