| 9.6°C Dublin

Drug-dealing footballer was warned of gang threat to his life


Robert Bayly, who has played for Shamrock Rovers, was jailed after being caught transporting €200,000 of cannabis

Robert Bayly, who has played for Shamrock Rovers, was jailed after being caught transporting €200,000 of cannabis

Robert Bayly, who has played for Shamrock Rovers, was jailed after being caught transporting €200,000 of cannabis

A former footballer who was jailed this week for drugs offences was previously warned his life was in danger because of his links to a gang involved in a deadly feud that claimed four lives.

Former Leeds United and Republic of Ireland youth team footballer Robert Bayly (30) was jailed for two-and-a-half years after he was caught transporting nearly €200,000 worth of cannabis.

Bayly was previously arrested on suspicion of withholding information in relation to a serious crime.

His friends were at war with the mob led by Derek 'Dee Dee' O'Driscoll, who pleaded guilty to violent disorder and production of an article cap-able of causing serious injury on September 27, 2009 during a brawl.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard rival thug Jason Martin later died from injuries sustained during a confrontation with men armed with hatchets.

O'Driscoll and co-accused Michael Byrne (42) were not involved in this part of the fight.

Byrne, of Clondalkin, who is currently serving an 18-year term for possession of €6.2m worth of heroin, was found guilty of affray and given a suspended sentence.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court this week, Bayly was described by his barrister as "a child prodigy" who fell into gambling when he moved to Leeds United as a 14-year-old.

His gambling continued into adulthood and he ultimately agreed to transport the drugs to pay off a €6,500 debt, counsel Dominic McGinn told the court.

Bayly, of Cedarbrook Way, Ballyfermot, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Cherry Orchard Drive, Ballyfermot, last May 12.

The footballer, who also played professionally in Ireland for Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda United, had no previous convictions, the court heard.

Gda Neil Mcgrath told Antonia Boyle, prosecuting, that gardai stopped the Nissan Almera Bayly was driving and noticed a "very strong smell of cannabis".


He admitted there was "weed in the boot" before gardai discovered 10 small packages of cannabis. The drugs had an estimated street value of €194,284.

Bayly said in garda interview that he agreed to transport the drugs to reduce a gambling debt of €6,500. He said he was in fear for his life and that of his daughter and girlfriend.

Gda McGrath said officers accepted that Bayly gave "a truthful account" of his role in the operation.

He agreed that he was extremely mannerly, co-operative and "the smallest cog in the wheel".

"I got the impression that he didn't fully understand what was happening," Gda McGrath said.

He accepted that Bayly told gardai in interview that he was glad he was caught because it meant that "a huge amount of drugs wouldn't make it on to the street".

Mr McGinn told Judge Martin Nolan that Bayly had a "huge amount of contact" with the older players in the three years he spent in Leeds, where he was introduced to gambling.

He said his client played for Shamrock Rovers and various other clubs here, where his addiction got out of control.

"He was earning decent money as a footballer," Mr McGinn said, but said he had no assets.

He said Bayly completed all but one week of a 12-week rehabilitative programme but left because he was offered a contract with Drogheda United.