Sunday 24 June 2018

Man who had cocaine worth €70k in his luggage at Dublin Airport jailed

Stock image
Stock image

Jessica Magee

A man who brought almost €70,000 worth of cocaine from Brazil into Dublin Airport has been jailed for three years.

Noel O'Connor (36) flew back to Brazil shortly after the drugs were detected through a random search. He subsequently returned to Ireland to “face the music”, a court has heard.

O'Connor, of Cromlech Fields, Ballybrack, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the importation of controlled drugs on February 10 last.

Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said O'Connor was “the ambassador of his own misfortune” in that it was his own drug addiction that led him to commit this crime. However, the judge commended O'Connor for his “blameless record” while in custody, in particular for his charity work with the Irish Red Cross.

Garda Rachel Goggin told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that O'Connor had arrived into Dublin Airport from Sao Paolo, Brazil. Customs officers stopped O'Connor after a random swab test revealed the presence of cocaine in his bags.

When his luggage was found to contain two shampoo bottles filled with 1.1 kilos of the drug worth €69,685, O'Connor ran from the customs hall into the arrivals area.

CCTV footage showed O'Connor running out the door of the airport and into a taxi to make his escape. He later flew to Brazil, but then decided to come home and arranged to meet gardaí last June.

O'Connor told gardaí he had decided to “come home and face the music” as he missed his family and young son, and didn't want to be running from the law his whole life. He has ten previous convictions including theft and robbery.

The court heard that prior to the offence, O'Connor decided to go to Brazil after he broke up with his ex-fiancée. The couple had been together fourteen years and had a two-year-old child.

O'Connor, who was working as a personal trainer at the time, began using drugs. One of his friends, for whom O'Connor also provided personal training, persuaded him to come out to Brazil.

In Brazil O'Connor again met up with this friend and proceeded to fall in love with his sister, who then became pregnant. O'Connor found himself with a drug debt of €4,000 and his friend suggested he convey drugs to Ireland to discharge his debt.

Mr Pieter Le Vert BL defending, said his client felt that there would be “consequences” if he didn't pay his debt and that he could have been shot.

O'Connor flew from Recife in Brazil to Sao Paolo where he was told to wait in a hotel room while someone came and repacked his bags, put in the two shampoo bottles wrapped in cling-film and sprayed the bags with dog repellent spray.

The court heard that O'Connor was from an “extremely respectable” family and, after completing his third level education, had qualified as a plasterer and later as a personal trainer.

He also did a considerable amount of charity work before committing this offence, including working with local gardaí for a youth diversion programme. He gave his services as a gym instructor for his local youth club, worked for Our Lady's Hospice and participated in an annual charity Food Drive.

Mr Le Vert said the reason O'Connor went back to Brazil a second time was for fear that his girlfriend in Brazil might get into trouble as a consequence of the drugs having been confiscated.

The court heard that since he went into custody, O'Connor had taken every possible opportunity to better himself, including attending drugs counselling and completing courses in emotional welfare, alternatives to violence and the Red Cross.

His counsel said a job awaits him when he gets out of prison. The sentence was backdated to June 23 last.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News