Dublin mechanic caught at Cork Covid checkpoint with €139,000 drug stash

A blood test was taken and he was found to be driving under the influence of cocaine
Dublin mechanic caught at Cork Covid checkpoint with €139,000 drug stash

The matter came to light during a Covid lockdown when people had to justify journeys beyond a certain distance.

A routine Covid checkpoint in Cork resulted in a Dublin mechanic being caught with €139,000 of cannabis herb in the back of his van and now he has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Judge Helen Boyle said, “It is in truth a cautionary tale about a young man accruing a drugs debt and the difficulty that causes for himself and his family.” The judge imposed a sentence of five years with the final two years suspended at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

33-year-old Thomas Gahan of Kilmahuddrick Road, Clondalkin, Dublin, is a skilled mechanic who is valued by his employer, his senior counsel Ray Boland said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court at the sentencing hearing.

Gahan agreed to carry the stash of drugs because he had become addicted to cocaine and clocked up a €10,000 drugs debt.

He was pressurised to repay this debt and brought the drugs from Dublin. Mr Boland SC said Gahan was unaware of how much was to have been taken off his drug debt for doing so.

The matter came to light during a Covid lockdown when people had to justify journeys beyond a certain distance. Garda Ray O’Brien stopped Gahan in his van at a checkpoint on the M8 at Killydonoghue in Glanmire at 8.20pm on Tuesday March 23 2021. He did not have a letter from his employer as to why he was so far from home and the purpose of his journey.

Gahan gave a false name and details. Asked about this when he was initially before the court for his bail application, he said, “It was pure panic. I absolutely panicked from the start.” However, he said that when he woke up the following morning in the garda station he said one of the detectives referred to him by the false name he had given, and Gahan said he immediately gave his correct name at the gardaí.

Detective Sergeant Joe Young said the Renault van was searched and in the back gardaí found seven packages of cannabis in two bags.

A blood test was taken and Gahan was found to be driving under the influence of cocaine.

He acknowledged to gardaí he had three phones – one personal, one for work and a third for the purpose of the transporting of the drugs.

Gahan expressed fears to gardaí about giving the names of others involved in this drug dealing as he said he was in fear of retribution against himself or other family members.

Ray Boland, defence senior counsel, said, “Because this was Covid these persons transporting drugs had trouble doing so. Mr Gahan was targeted because he had a legitimate job.” Det Sgt Young agreed the young man may have been targeted for this reason.

Judge Helen Boyle said, “You indicated you were in fear of the people who recruited you. You did not provide the PIN numbers to access your phones.

“You have two convictions for Section 3 - simple possession - charges.

“You have spent some time in custody in relation to the matter as you were initially refused bail. You spent five months and 18 days in custody in relation to the matter.

“Mr Boland says, you engaged positively with treatment and the probation service, you removed yourself from a negative peer group and have taken up new interests to occupy yourself. You have a good work history.”

However, the judge said that while there were mitigating factors it was too serious a case for an entirely suspended sentence.

The judge said the time already served by the accused should be taken into account in terms of the serving of the three years.

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