Wednesday 12 December 2018

Three 'decent' men who transported €1.1 million worth of MDMA and heroin jailed

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Isabel Hayes

Three “decent” men who got involved in transporting €1.1 million worth of MDMA and heroin after they got into debt have been jailed.

John Darcy (50), Patrick Riordan (63) and Thomas McAllister (63) made a “grave misjudgement” when they got involved in holding and transporting the drugs in 2016, Judge Martin Nolan told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He noted they were “kind and responsible” family men who were placed under pressure to get involved in the drugs operation, but he said they knew what they were getting involved in.

“They are reasonably decent men who committed a grave misjudgement in relation to their involvement in this crime,” the judge said.

He sentenced Darcy and Riordan to four years in prison and McAllister to three years in prison. He imposed a lesser sentence on McAllister as he noted that unlike the other two men, McAllister did not get involved in the operation to pay off his own drug debt.

The court heard McAllister committed the offence in order to pay off the debt of a close relative.

Darcy, of Phoenix Manor, Blackhorse Ave, Dublin, Riordan, of Grangeview Place, Clondalkin, Dublin, and McAllister, of Donomore Crescent, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to possessing drugs for sale or supply at locations in Dublin and Kildare on November 30, 2016.

Detective Garda Philip Byrne told Lorcan Staines BL, prosecuting, that on the day in question, a garda surveillance operation was underway at an address at Grangeview Road, Clondalkin. The three men were observed at the property, before McAllister drove away in a truck and Darcy drove away in a van. Riordan remained at the property.

The van was stopped and searched a short distance away. Seven kilos of MDMA with a street value of €420,000 were found in the van.

Darcy was arrested and made immediate admissions to gardaí, saying he was told he would be paid €800 to collect the drugs. He said he knew it was “stupid” and he didn't know the quantity or value of the drugs in the van.

The truck, which was driven by McAllister, was stopped by gardaí on the N7 in Kildare. McAllister immediately told gardaí there were drugs in the cab. One kilo of heroin and two kilos of MDMA with a combined street value of €260,000 were discovered.

McAllister told gardaí he was transporting the drugs for a friend who had run up a debt of €10,000 and was under threat.

Riordan was arrested at the house, where three kilos of MDMA and two kilos of heroin with a combined street value of €460,000 were discovered. He told gardaí he had run up a drug debt of €18,000 and couldn't pay it back. He said he thought the drugs were weed.

The total street value of drugs seized amounted to €1.14 million, the court heard. Each of the men said they were too afraid to reveal who they had been transporting the drugs for.

Seamus Clarke SC, representing Darcy, said his client had co-operated with gardaí and made full admissions in relation to the drugs in his van. He has no previous convictions. He was in full-time employment, most recently as a delivery man, up until the commission of this offence.

Mr Clarke said Darcy was “preyed upon for his vulnerability”. “There appears to be an element of duress,” Mr Clarke said, adding Darcy was fearful for the safety of his partner in the wake of his arrest. He has recently married and has two children from a previous relationship.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending McAllister, said his client “deeply regrets” his actions, which he said had destroyed his life and that of his family.  The court heard McAllister was the victim of a beating in the wake of the offence and suffered knee-cap injuries, head injuries and broken fingers. At one point he was informed by gardaí that his life was in danger.

A number of testimonials were handed into court on his behalf, many of which described his behaviour as completely out-of-character. McAllister has a small number of previous convictions, including road traffic offences and one assault. He has no drug addiction issues.

He left school at the age of 12 and had worked “every day of his life” since, Mr Dwyer said. He said McAllister was paying a heavy price for his actions, including the loss of his job. “He has learned his lesson in a severe way,” Mr Dwyer said.

In a letter handed up to court, Patrick Riordan said he “hates himself” for what he has done. He said he would “always be haunted by the shock, disgust, and shame that his family have experienced” since the offence, the court heard.

Giollaíosa O Lideadha SC, defending Riordan, said his client, a separated man, was described as a loving and caring father by his three children. The court heard he had a traumatic childhood and had suffered from depression, alcohol and drug addiction. He has a number of health issues, has suffered two heart attacks and has epilepsy.

He has 11 previous convictions, dating from 1969 to 1993.

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