Olympic weightlifting hopeful avoids jail over cocaine
THE Olympic dream of a record-holding Irish weight-lifter remains alive after he yesterday escaped a jail term for cocaine dealing and illegally possessing a sawn off shotgun.
Sean McNamara (21) walked free from Ennis Courthouse after Judge Gerald Keyes imposed a suspended three-year jail term. McNamara had earlier pleaded guilty to fire-arm and drug offences and the court heard he was "influenced by a 17-year-old" who put pressure on him to store the gun.
A mandatory minimum five-year jail term applies to the firearm offence, but Judge Keyes said there were exceptional circumstances that allowed him not to impose the mandatory jail term.
Counsel for McNamara, Michael Collins BL, had pleaded with Judge Keyes not to impose a jail term on his client as it would dash his ambitions of representing Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Mr Collins said that McNamara of Doonogan, Mullagh, in west Clare, was a current All-Ireland and Munster title holder.
McNamara has recorded two national records in his weight category and age group.
Mr Collins said: "He is now being picked on an elite squad for Rio and is the public interest to be served by dashing that because of his involvement in something where he was under the influence of others?"
In sentencing, Judge Keyes said that gardai had recovered the sawn-off shotgun wrapped in a towel and 29 grams of cocaine along with a dealing book and weighing scales on October 16, 2010, at Doonogan, Mullagh.
Detective Garda Stephen Hession said that the items were the property of other people and McNamara was looking after them.
Judge Keyes said that McNamara had become involved in a gang selling cocaine in north and west Clare.
He noted garda evidence that McNamara had been used by a 17-year old gang leader.
Judge Keyes said that the stolen shotgun was going to be used by the teenager as a scare tactic to frighten off a third party and that it had no cartridges.
Judge Keyes said that since October 2010, McNamara had not been in trouble and came from a very respectable family, who lived in a rural part of Co Clare.
He said: "I accept that you co-operated with the gardai and fully regret your actions. I also accept you were naive and influenced by this 17-year-old who put pressure on you to store the firearm."
Judge Keyes imposed a three-year jail term on the drug and firearm offence to run concurrently.
Judge Keyes said that he would suspend the three-year jail term for five years.