A FORMER Killarney chef who fled to England after he was arrested following a major drug seizure in Kerry seven years ago, has been jailed for three years.
Lee McMullen, who was living at 77 Scrahan Mews, Ross Road, Killarney, at the time of the seizure was sentenced at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court last Thursday.
Mr McMullen was arrested following the seizure by gardaí of €58,000 worth of cannabis and ecstasy at Knockaderry, Farranfore, on May 11, 2005.
He was subsequently charged with possession of drugs for the purpose of sale or supply and with unlawful possession of drugs at Knockaderry and at his home.
The drugs, 5,126 ecstasy tablets and a kilo of cannabis resin were discovered in Mr McMullen's car when he was stopped by gardaí for driving at over 80 kilometres and hour in a 30 kilometre an hour zone.
After being released on bail, McMullen fled to England and had remained on the run, working in numerous restaurants under a different name, ever since.
He was arrested by members of the Kerry Divisional Drugs Squad after he, and his young child, stepped off a plane from the UK in Dublin Airport on Tuesday, April 17 last.
Gardaí, who had been tipped off in advance about his arrival, believe that it was Lee McMullen's first time in Ireland since he disappeared seven years previously.
Mr McMullen said he had made the decision to flee Ireland after he received threats from individuals to whom he owed money arising from drug debts.
Judge Carroll Moran, who said Mr McMullen's decision to flee Ireland when he knew an investigation was underway was a aggravating factor when it came to sentencing, jailed him for three years.
The sentence was backdated to the date of Mr McMullen's arrest in April.