Saturday 22 November 2014

Man caught at Dublin airport with cannabis worth €18k, marked as 'animal fodder'

Jessica Magee

Published 03/06/2014 | 16:15

Cannabis plants
Ibrahim Kalembo (34) of Westend Village, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to importing the drug in a suitcase on August 24, 2012.

A man is to be sentenced later after he was caught at Dublin Airport with over €18,000 worth of cannabis in a bag marked “rabbit fodder”.

Ibrahim Kalembo (34) of Westend Village, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty to importing the drug in a suitcase on August 24, 2012.

The father-of-four initially told customs officers at the airport that the suitcase contained food for his restaurant in Dublin.

He then told gardaí a friend had given him the cannabis as a present, for his own use and for sharing around.

Judge Desmond Hogan remarked: “Some friend. €18,000 worth of cannabis...I've heard it all now.”

Garda Stephen Boyce told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that the accused and his wife were stopped when they arrived in Dublin on a flight from Brussels.

Customs officials examined Kalembo's suitcase and found strongly smelling packages inside, containing a herbal substance.

Kalembo was asked to come to the garda interview room, but he ran past customs officers and tried to escape.

He picked up a bottle and waved it at officials, before running down a tunnel and ending up in the arrivals area where he was caught by gardaí.

Kalembo was arrested and told gardaí that he had gone home to Holland, where he had grown up, and had been given the marijuana or “cannabis dust” by a friend.

He said he owned a restaurant on Blessington Street in Dublin which served international cuisine, but that the business had run into difficulties and he had started smoking cannabis again.

Keith Spencer BL, defending, said Kalembo had a debt of €25,000 from starting up the restaurant.

The court heard Kalembo has nine previous convictions in Ireland, including theft, public order and traffic offences.

Mr Spencer said his client no longer uses drugs and has completed a number of courses in Tallaght IT.

He said he had been instructed by Kalembo that his friend had given him the cannabis dust “for free”, for his own personal consumption and for sharing around.

“I don't believe one word of it. He was doing a run. He was bringing in drugs that he was going to sell because his restaurant was failing,” said Judge Hogan.

He remanded Kalembo on bail for sentencing until February, pending a probation

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