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Musicians back artist caught with €131,000 of cannabis

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Well-known musicians and artists yesterday offered their support in court to an acclaimed artist caught with €131,000 of cannabis.

Fionntán Fitzgerald (52), of Main Street, Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, was supported at his sentencing hearing by members of Oscar-nominated band Kíla.

And other prominent people provided a "huge amount" of character references for father-of-three Fitzgerald, who pleaded guilty to the sale of cannabis in Carrick-on-Shannon on July 31, 2018.

Detective Garda Brian McMahon told Judge John Aylmer at Carrick-on-Shannon Circuit Court that 22.5kg of cannabis resin with an estimated street value of €131,000 was found in a vehicle driven by Fitzgerald.

A search of Fitzgerald's apartment uncovered a further 700g of cannabis resin and €20,450 in cash.

Fitzgerald made extensive admissions but declined to give the details of others involved due to concern for his own safety. He admitted that all but €550 of the cash was the proceeds of crime.

The court heard Fitzgerald had five convictions, including one for importing drugs.

In 1995 he was sentenced to six years for that offence and was described as a "model prisoner" in Mountjoy Prison.

Former governor John Lonergan described him as "a most co-operative and helpful young man who made a major contribution to prison life".

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, told Judge Aylmer while Fitzgerald was in Mountjoy, he did a "free portrait for every prisoner in the prison".

Mr Dwyer read a "huge amount of references" from "very well-known musicians and members of the arts community".

Dee Armstrong of experimental folk band Kíla, who was in court to support Fitzgerald, described him as a "very kind, generous and thoughtful person".

Kíla founding member Rossa Ó Snodaigh told how he demonstrated enormous commitment to his children following the breakdown of his relationship with their mother.

The hearing was adjourned for a probation report.

Irish Independent