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Ex-GAA star caught with €55k drug haul

A former Meath county hurler will be sentenced later for trying to transport €55,000 worth of cannabis from Dublin to Kerry by train.

John Nelson (40) of Parnell Park, Navan was a promising young hurler who was one of the first in the country to achieve a senior medal aged 16, the court heard.

However, he has been a chronic drug addict for the past 20 years, after leaving the family furniture business and starting work in construction.

He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of over 8kg of cannabis resin at Heuston Station on December 6, 2008.

Judge Tony Hunt remanded him in custody until June and ordered a probation report be prepared. Indicating he would not be imposing the mandatory minimum of 10 years, he noted Nelson came from a "very respectable family and his life has taken an unfortunate turn".

Detective Garda Ronan McMahon told prosecuting counsel, Pieter Le Vert, that he received confidential information that Nelson would be transporting the drugs by train. He saw him in the queue for the train to Cork carrying a heavy rucksack and stopped him.

Nelson immediately told them, "I've hash in my bag and an ounce of brown in my trousers." A search revealed 8kg of cannabis resin in the rucksack and a further ounce hidden in his trousers.

He said he had come up to Dublin from Kerry where he had been staying with his fiance.

He said he was given the drugs and was to take a train to back to Kerry where someone would meet him and pay him.

He was making the delivery to get money for Christmas and expected €800 to €900.

The court heard he had 15 previous convictions including assault and drug dealing.

Defence counsel Bernard Condon said Nelson had co-operated with gardai and had entered an early guilty plea.

The court heard he was on and off heroin for years, but his addiction became worse after the death of his father 10 years ago.