Monday 22 December 2014

Restaurant owner caught at Dublin Airport with €18,000 worth of cannabis jailed for two years

Published 04/07/2014 | 12:48

An open verdict was returned at the inquest into the death of a Belgian student who "most probably" had taken cyanide
An open verdict was returned at the inquest into the death of a Belgian student who "most probably" had taken cyanide

A restaurant owner who was caught at Dublin Airport with over €18,000 worth of cannabis in a bag marked “rabbit fodder” has been jailed for two years.

Ibrahim Kalembo (34) of Westend Village, Blanchardstown, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to importing the drugs in a suitcase on August 24, 2012. Kalembo has 9 previous convictions in Ireland, including theft, public order and traffic offences.

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

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.”

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

He said he had been instructed by Kalembo that his friend had given him the cannabis dust “for free”.

“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.

The judge imposed a three year sentence with the final year suspended for three years.

Garda Stephen Boyce told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting, that the Kalembo 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 which served international cuisine, but that the business had run into difficulties and he had started smoking cannabis again.

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

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