A HIGHLY educated Cork man who spent over eight years living in America sent packages of crystal meth from Los Angeles to his apartment at Barrack St in Cork up to 20 times before he was eventually caught.
He was also convicted of fraudulently claiming over €98,000 in social welfare between 2009 and 2018 while he was not resident in Ireland.
John Dunlea, aged 49, commenced an 18-month jail term today.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court: “There has to be a custodial sentence given the nature of the drug and the time he was dealing.
“He was consciously importing the drug on an increasing basis. That is one of the aggravating factors.
“I cannot emphasise enough how seriously I view this case.
“This is a man of the highest education dealing in the most significantly addictive drug known. And he was doing that knowingly, so a custodial sentence is needed.”
The judge imposed an 18-month sentence on Dunlea for the drugs charge.
The accused pleaded guilty to having the illegal drug, methamphetamine, commonly called crystal meth, for sale or supply at an apartment at Barrack St, Cork, on August 21, 2018.
A concurrent 12-month sentence was imposed on him in respect of the social welfare fraud.
Ray Boland, defence barrister, described his client as very well-travelled and highly educated and said he became addicted to crystal meth in Los Angeles.
Dunlea first became addicted to pain-killing medication after an operation.
He resorted to buying such medication from street dealers and was introduced to crystal meth which he began to use.
Detective Garda Jeremy Murphy said Customs and Excise officers and members of An Garda Síochána carried out a joint operation where a parcel containing over €7,000 worth of crystal meth from Los Angeles was detected.
It was addressed to the accused at his apartment at 41/42 Barrack St, Cork, and delivered in a controlled delivery. Dunlea was arrested moments later.
Dunlea admitted paying €1,400 for the consignment which gardaí said had a street value of €7,000 in Cork.
He told gardaí he had 20 to 25 customers and had imported packages 15 to 20 times before he was caught.
He started with small amounts and worked his way up to larger amounts.
Sergeant Kieran Kelleher who is on secondment from An Garda Síochána to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection approached Dunlea in relation to the social welfare investigation after he was caught with the drugs and he made admissions.
Dunlea admitted 37 counts of theft spanning from January 7, 2009, to April 3, 2018.
The thefts consisted of taking monthly social welfare payments sent directly to his account at AIB bank at 26 Patrick St, Cork, and referred to amounts of around €2,700, more or less.
The total amount of money stolen, as documented in the 37 charges, was €98,468.
Mr Boland, defence barrister, asked for a suspended or adjourned sentence to allow the accused to continue making repayments to the department and said he was now in employment with good future prospects.
He said this would be set at nought if a jail term was imposed.
The judge said that there had to be a custodial sentence in view of the fact that there were these two different indictments against the same man.