GAA coach who claims he was 'used by major gangland figure' after being caught with €560k of cannabis loses appeal against seven year sentence
A GAA coach, who was “targeted” and used by "a major gangland criminal”, has lost an appeal against his seven year sentence for possessing more than half-a-million euros worth of cannabis.
Father-of-four David Gill (40), from The Pines, Leopardstown Road in the capital had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing €560k worth of cannabis for sale or supply at three locations in Dublin on August 22, 2013.
He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment by Judge Martin Nolan on July 29, 2014.
Dismissing Gill's appeal today, the Court of Appeal held that his seven-year sentence was not excessive.
Speaking on behalf of the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said that during a garda surveillance operation, Gill was stopped in a white van on the Kylemore Road in which 8.5kg of cannabis herb was found worth €171,000.
At a follow-up search of a lock-up, 19.5kg of cannabis resin was found worth €389,000, Mr Justice Mahon said and at his home, €30,000 in cash was found hidden in a pool table.
Counsel for Gill, Pauline Walley SC, said her client was described by an experienced drugs-squad garda as “a safe, disposable man for a major gangland criminal”.
This man was described as a “high ranking criminal” and a “major figure” who was “respected in the criminal fraternity”, Ms Walley said.
She said Gill had been “targeted” and "used" as somebody who had never come onto the garda radar before and who had been active in the local community.
The garda accepted that Gill had been put under fear, Ms Walley said, and fear was his human frailty.
Gill had a lengthy involvement in sport, Mr Justice Mahon said, and had been appointed coach of a local club in 2010.
Mr Justice Mahon said the Circuit Court judge appropriately determined that there were exceptional circumstances in this case which permitted him to depart from the 10 year mandatory minimum sentence for possession of drugs worth more than €13k.
The sentencing judge had mentioned all of the mitigating factors and the likelihood that Gill would not involve himself in criminal activity again, Mr Justice Mahon said.
While seven years was possibly at the upper end for this offence and this offender, Mr Justice Mahon said, the sentence could not be held to be excessive or amounting to an error in principle.
Accordingly, Mr Justice Mahon, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice John Edwards, dismissed the appeal.
There was a large number of family and supporters in court for Gill for the hearing.