Monday 23 October 2017

Sister was a high-profile campaigner for better cancer treatment

Luke Byrne and Fiona Ferguson

JAILED company director Garreth Hopkins is the brother of high-profile cancer campaigner Cathy Durkin, who died from the disease in July last year.

The mother of three (41) had been campaigning to make cancer drug Ipilimumab – known as Ipi – available to Irish sufferers of the disease.

Her fight hit the headlines and she eventually forced health authorities into a U-turn in providing the expensive life-improving cancer drugs.

Hopkins grew up with Ms Durkin and his two other sisters, Celine and April, on Carnlough Road, in Cabra west, Dublin.

Locals told the Irish Independent that he was "the nicest guy you could meet" and that the cocaine bust was completely unexpected.

Hopkins was born to father Michael, who worked as crane driver, and mother Catherine, in the Rotunda Hospital in 1979.

The couple raised him with his sisters in the estate and they are a well-known family in the area.

"The estate hasn't always been in the best condition.

"You could say it was disadvantaged, but Garreth's parents were very interested in education, they valued it," one local said.

"All of the kids did very well, they were all in college and they all had a great amount of success," he added.

Hopkins was described as a popular and sporty young man who loved to play hurling and football while growing up. He was also described as remarkably bright.

"It was great when he went to Trinity, everyone was very proud of him," said a local woman.

After graduating with a computer science degree in 2003, Hopkins went on to become a director of numerous companies.

He also took up employment with a property management company where he worked until March 2012.

He had an income of €75,000 at that time and his tax affairs were in order.

LOSS

The jailing of Hopkins has dealt another heavy blow to his parents following the loss of their daughter.

"They are in an absolutely terrible way, they are still mourning the death of their daughter and now this has happened," a family friend said.

In court yesterday, Garda Eoin Roche told how they had found four slabs of cocaine in a suitcase in a shed at the rear of Hopkins' house. His partner was unaware of his activities.

A notebook containing details on how to separate the drug slabs from the wooden planks as well as the amount of drugs and the container number was also found by gardai.

Hopkins initially made admissions to gardai about the cocaine found in the shed but denied knowledge of the seizures at Tallaght and Ballycoolin. He denied involvement in the logistics of the importation and said he had been at Westmanstown and Ballycoolin on legitimate business.

He later made admissions about his role in relation to the larger amounts of drugs and about the movement of money in and out of his bank account.

Gda Roche agreed that Hopkins was someone who had not previously been on the garda radar. He agreed Hopkins had "considerable entrepreneurial skills", came from a decent family background and that gardai had "no interest" in his companies.

Hopkins was familiar with the import/export business through his own previously legitimate business dealings.

Defending counsel Patrick Marrinan said Hopkins was "clearly not an insignificant player in relation to this" but submitted his reaction to the charges was not compatible with that of a hardened criminal.

Mr Marrinan said Hopkins had an interest in sport and had made a large number of substantial donations to charity between 2008 and 2011, as well as providing financial assistance to people he knew.

He said Hopkins worked as a trustee in the gym in Cloverhill jail, has taken up music lessons and hoped to do a PhD while in custody. He had also become heavily involved in the prison waste management system in Cloverhill.

Irish Independent

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