Tuesday 23 January 2018

Man caught with €90,000 of cocaine in whiskey container in Dublin airport was promised 'short holiday in Ireland'

Dublin Airport
Dublin Airport

Fiona Ferguson

A Lithuanian man caught bringing over €90,000 of cocaine into Dublin airport in a whiskey container “in return for a short holiday in Ireland” has been given a four and a half year sentence.

Mantis Kerbelis (23), unemployed and recently divorced, said he had become involved in the offence in return for a short holiday in Ireland. He had €1 on his person when arrested.

Kerbelis, who has been in custody since his arrest at the airport, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Terminal Two on February 5, 2016

Judge Melanie Greally noted Kerbelis's “good level of co-operation” and said she was able to depart from the presumptive minimum sentence of ten years applicable to this offence. She said he appeared to be under the instructions of people higher up the drugs hierarchy.

Judge Greally imposed a four and a half year sentence but suspended the final 18 months on condition he leave the country within seven days of his release from prison.

Garda Aoife McEvoy told Cormac Quinn BL, prosecuting, that Kerbelis was stopped by customs officials after travelling to Dublin via Dubai and an x-ray of his luggage revealed a whiskey container holding 83 pellets of cocaine with a value of €91,079.

Kerbelis said he had not known they were inside the container. He said tickets had been bought for him and he had travelled to Dubai where a man in a toilet had given him the whiskey container. A man was to meet him in Dublin to collect the container.

Kerbelis has one previous conviction in Lithuanian for an incident of domestic violence.

Gda McEvoy agreed with Dominic McGinn SC, defending, that Kerbelis had fully engaged with the customs officers and gardaí.

Mr McGinn said Kerbelis had worked in the area of electromechanics but lost his job “because of the vagaries of the economy” and the subsequent financial difficulties caused severe problems in his marriage. He and his wife, who have one small child, have since divorced.

He said Kerbelis recognised the huge risk he took in return for a short holiday was “completely misguided.” He submitted that his client was not a career criminal and the offence was out of character.

Counsel said Kerbelis has been using his time in custody productively and had not come to any adverse garda attention.

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