Man held guns, drugs, and stolen motorbikes in bid to pay off gambling debt, court hears

Dylan Mooney (26) became addicted to gambling during long stays in hospital while being treated for cystic fibrosis.
Man held guns, drugs, and stolen motorbikes in bid to pay off gambling debt, court hears

Sonya McLean

A man who agreed to hold a semi-automatic pistol, cannabis and two stolen motorbikes in order to pay off a gambling debt has been given a four-year suspended sentence.

Dylan Mooney (26) became addicted to gambling during long stays in hospital while being treated for cystic fibrosis. He continued to gamble once he was discharged, playing online and going to bookmakers.

He ran up a debt of €15,000 and agreed to hold the gun, ammunition, a total of €20,600 worth of cannabis, and two motorbikes to pay off the debt.

Mooney of Sheephill Avenue, Blanchardstown, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis resin, cannabis herb, a semi-automatic pistol and two charges of handling stolen property at his home on September 19th, 2017.

He has no previous convictions and has not come to garda attention since his arrest.

Judge Melanie Greally had adjourned the case in January 2019 having heard evidence to allow for the preparation of a probation report. She said she also wanted to ascertain if Mooney's medical condition could be properly treated in a prison regime.

The case was adjourned for four months when Judge Greally noted that the reports before the court indicated that a “custodial environment presents a higher risk of infection than would ordinarily exist.”

Judge Greally said normally such a crime would attract a prison sentence, but said that Mooney's “well-being” should be preserved and “the risk of infection for CF sufferers is a major concern”.

She placed Mooney on a 12-month probation bond during which time he was ordered to engage with both the Probation Service and gambling addiction services.

On Tuesday, Judge Greally was told that Mooney has not come to garda attention since May 2019 and has engaged well with the Probation Service.

She said she was taking into account Mooney’s lack of previous convictions, his medical difficulties, his cooperation with the investigation and the fact that he has since addressed his gambling addiction.

Judge Greally sentenced Mooney to four years in prison which she suspended in full on a number of conditions including that Mooney keep the peace and be of good behaviour and engage with the Probation Service for 18 months.

Under pressure

Detective Garda Patrick Ahearne told John Berry BL, prosecuting at the initial sentence hearing, that the house Mooney was living in with his grandfather was searched following a garda tip off.

The gun was found in a shopping bag in a laundry basket in Mooney's bedroom. It was later examined and found to be in good condition. Eight rounds of ammunition were also recovered which were compatible with the pistol and a single shotgun cartridge.

Det Gda Ahearne said the drugs were discovered in a safe hidden in the attic of the house. Gardaí forced the lock open and found 619 grams of cannabis herb and 1.3kg of cannabis resin.

Mooney accepted responsibility for the firearm and ammunition, telling gardaí that he had been given them by men he owed money to due to his gambling addiction. He said the safe had been delivered the previous day, and he had assisted the men in placing it in the attic.

He claimed he initially believed that the firearm was drugs but later looked in the bag and discovered it was a gun. He said he asked for it to be collected but was told he would have to keep it.

Mooney told gardaí in interview that he didn't know what was in the safe “for certain” but he suspected it was drugs.

The motorbikes were both valued at around €1,750. Mooney said they had been placed in his grandfather's garden two or three months previously by the same people who left the gun and drugs.

He said he had asked if the bikes had been stolen, but he was told they hadn't and the owners just didn't have the space at their own home to store them.

Det Gda Ahearne agreed that Mooney said he had never sold drugs. He accepted that he “came under pressure” because of his gambling debt and came from a decent supportive family.

Det Gda Ahearne accepted a suggestion from Simon Matthews BL, defending, that Mooney was a vulnerable person who had spent many years of his childhood in hospital being treated for his medical condition.

He further accepted that he first got into gambling on his phone during those long stays in hospital.

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