Saturday 20 January 2018

Furniture removal man jailed for five years after being caught with €2.5m worth of drugs

The CCJ complex
The CCJ complex

Conor Gallagher

A furniture removal man has been jailed for five years after being caught with €2.5 million worth of drugs and a large cache of weapons.

Patrick Brunell (35) was observed by gardaí handing over the haul to another man outside his father's transport company in Tallaght, Dublin.

The weapons included an AK-47 type assault rifle, a sniper rifle, and a shotgun as well as another rifle which was fitted with a silencer. He also had four different types of ammunition.

Brunell refused to say who the guns and drugs belonged to out of fear for his life. He said he was asked to hold them because it was known that he had access to his father's lock-up.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard his father's business had suffered because of media coverage of the garda operation.

Brunell of Kiltalown Road Tallaght pleaded guilty to possession of 29kgs of cocaine, 6.4kgs of heroin, a Czech made CZ rifle with silencer, a Beretta shotgun, a Yugoslavian AK 47 style assault rifle and a German Sauer rifle with telescopic sight, along with 105 rounds of ammunition.

The Director of Public Prosecutions said the offences lay in the upper range of seriousness due to the variety and types of weapons found and recommended a sentence of between 10 to 14 years.

However Judge Patrick McCartan said the offence, while very serious, was in the “middle range” because Brunell was not dealing the drugs himself and was holding the guns for other people.

He imposed a seven year sentence with the final two suspended and told Brunell that he was sorry for him.

“You've made dreadful mistake and you'll have to pay the consequences,” Judge McCartan said. “Hopefully you'll appreciate that I've been as lenient as I can.”

Sergeant Brian Cagney told prosecuting counsel Garret Baker BL that a confidential tip-off led gardaí to put the Greenhills Road premises under surveillance. On October 28, 2015 they saw two cars arrive outside.

Brunell got out of one car and handed over two black hold-alls containing the drugs to the driver of the second car. Gardaí moved in and arrested both men. Another bag containing the guns was found in the back of Brunell's car.

He told gardaí he had held onto the items for two weeks and that he expected to be paid between €1,500 to €2,000. He said he did it for the money to support his family but also because he didn't feel he had any choice.

“They wouldn't take no for an answer,” he said in interview.

Brunell is married with two children. He has 13 previous convictions for road traffic offences and drug possession.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC said Brunell was a decent man who co-operated with gardaí despite refusing to give any names. Counsel submitted that it was to his credit that he was not caught with mixing agents or other drug deal accessories.

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