Friday 23 March 2018

Grandfather jailed for allowing van to transport €1.7m worth of drugs

Sonya McClean

A Dublin grandfather has been jailed for three years after he sourced a van for a drug dealer who was planning to use it to transport €1.7 million of cannabis herb.

Detective Garda Val Russell said although Patrick Sharlott told gardaí that his only role was to get a van for a co-accused, Darren Kearns, it was his view that he played a more significant role in the operation.

He said gardaí acting on confidential information had stables at Bellewstown in Ballyboughal, Co Meath, under surveillance when they observed brothers Philip and Darren Kearns moving a large amount of drugs.

Gardaí swooped in and the men were arrested. A piece of paper was later found in a Ford Transit van with a phone number on it. Gardaí called the number and arranged to meet the man they spoke to.

They later spotted Sharlott and phoned the number again to confirm it was the right man. Gardaí saw Sharlott answer the phone and he was arrested.

Sharlott (47) of Woodavens, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to allowing his van to be used for the sale or supply of drugs on August 11, 2010.

The father of five has minor road traffic convictions but has not come to garda attention since his arrest.

Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, told Judge Patrick McCartan that Sharlott’s plea was accepted on the basis that it ought to have been obvious to him what the van was intended for.

Det Gda Russell said Sharlott denied any involvement in the garda interview following his arrest. He said he had been put under pressure to get a van, he it handed over and it was driven away.

Sharlott said he was intending to meet the man again later that day because he had left his house and car keys in the van.

Det Gda Russell agreed with Mícheál O’Higgins SC, defending that his client was used as a pawn and that he would have been in a vulnerable position.

He accepted that the Kearns brothers were caught red handed. Darren (31) was jailed for six years by Judge Martin Nolan after he pleaded guilty to having the drugs for sale or supply.

His brother Philip (27) received a four year suspended sentence after he admitted the same offence as Sharlott.

The Kearns have an address at Ashington Dale, Navan Road. Darren admitted to gardaí that he had put his younger brother under pressure to assist him in moving the drugs.

After his evidence Judge McCartan asked Det Gda Russell what was his opinion on Sharlott’s role in the operation.

“In my view, he was part of the operation and he was waiting to collect the van with the drugs in it,” the officer replied.

Det Gda Russell agreed with Mr O’Higgins that his client consistently denied during interview that he was there to handle or control drugs and insisted that his only role was to source the van.

Mr O’Higgins said his client “hugely regrets” his role and accepts that he was “utterly reckless as to what the van was going to be used for”.

He described his client as a family man who has worked all his life.

Judge McCartan accepted that Sharlott previously had “an exemplary record” but added “this was a very significant cache of drugs being moved with significant money to be made and significant damage to be caused in the community”.

He said he must send out a message “that persons who lend themselves, for whatever reason, to such an operation must expect the full rigours of the law”.

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