Wednesday 29 January 2020

Champion boxer jailed for holding €40k of cocaine to pay off drug debt

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Sonya McLean

A champion boxer has been jailed for 16 months after he was caught holding €40,000 worth of cocaine in order to pay off a drug debt.

Andrew Begley (25) of Monastery Gate, Clondalkin, Dublin who previously won a Leinster championship and boxed at national level, “lost his way when he left school” and developed an uncontrollable cocaine habit, his barrister told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He pleaded guilty to possession of 581 grammes of cocaine at the family home on April 10, 2015. He was also caught with €62 worth of cannabis. He has eight previous convictions for minor road traffic offences.

Judge Martin Nolan suspended the final 32 months of a four year sentence on strict conditions.

He accepted evidence that Begley was holding the drugs for someone else but said he knew what he was doing and had associated himself with people involved in the drugs trade.

Garda Ciaran O'Neill told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting that Begley's home was searched following a garda tip off. A large quantity of cocaine, a tick list and mixing agent were later found in a wardrobe and a bedside locker in Begley's room.

Begley was not at home when gardaí first arrived but turned up after his mother called him to say the house was being searched.

He immediately took responsibility for the drugs and said he had been handing quantities of cocaine over when instructed to do so.

Gda O'Neill said gardaí were not entirely satisfied with Begley's explanation but accepted that it was not Begley's handwriting on the tick-list.

He agreed that he was a drug addict at the time but was now completely free of drugs.

Gda O'Neill agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, defending that there was no further evidence to suggest that Begley was drug dealing and accepted that he came home knowing gardaí were searching his room.

Mr McGinn told Judge Nolan that his client had “excelled in football” as a youngster before he became involved in boxing.

He said he began to dabble in drugs in his early 20s before falling into an “uncontrollable cocaine habit”.

“He was using far more than he could afford, ran into debt with his suppliers and owed his dealers about €5,000,” Mr McGinn said.

He said Begley was intimated and his mother was threatened. He was told if he held the drugs part of his debt would be written off.

Counsel said Begley was ashamed of his actions and had since turned his life around.

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