Courts

Friday 25 July 2014

Former garda jailed over drugs and motor scams

Declan Brennan and Conor Gallagher

Published 02/05/2014|02:30

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Ex-garda Stephen Cooper was jailed for three years. Collins

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, Dublin, 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charged with stealing a bag of cannabis herb worth €560 from Sundrive garda station on May 27, 2010 but this count was withdrawn by the prosecution.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 yesterday.

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

Before passing sentence she described Cooper's actions as a fundamental breach of the role of the gardai and noted that he threatened a completely innocent member of the public into making false claims. "This does a serious disservice to the public and to Mr Cooper's then colleagues who seek to conduct themselves within the letter of the law," the judge said.

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.

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He also pleaded guilty to the 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.

Cooper's defence counsel asked that he be allowed serve his time in the pre-release section of the jail, as has been the case with previous gardai.

Judge Ring replied that those were cases where there was an early guilty plea, which was not the case with Cooper. However she agreed to backdate the sentence to last February.

Irish Independent

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