Retired garda superintendent jailed over €260,000 cannabis seizure

The court heard John Murphy (62) had built up financial debts of €855,000 due to poor business decisions
Retired garda superintendent jailed over €260,000 cannabis seizure

Declan Brennan

A retired Garda Superintendent caught holding cannabis resin worth nearly €260,000 has been jailed for six and a half years.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that John Murphy (62) had built up financial debts of €855,000 due to poor business decisions made in the 10 years after he retired from the force.

Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, said Murphy had “whatever the opposite of the Midas touch is” and that any investments he made “went down the drain”.

Counsel said Murphy was consuming large amounts of alcohol every day “for as long as anyone could remember” and was a functioning alcoholic. He said his drinking had “clouded his judgement and brought him to this sorry pass”.

Sentencing him on Tuesday, Judge Martin Nolan said Murphy was holding the drugs for some type of financial reward in order to alleviate his debts but added “he should have known better”.

Murphy came forward to the Circuit Court on signed guilty pleas entered at Dublin District Court to an offence of possession for sale or supply of cannabis at his home in Clontarf, north Dublin on September 29th, 2021.

Search warrant

Garda Inspector Brian Hanley from the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation told Maddie Grant BL, prosecuting, that in September 2021, gardaí acting on foot of confidential information obtained a warrant to search Murphy's home.

During the search they found eight bags of cannabis herb in a bag in the walk-in wardrobe of an upstairs bedroom.

Seven vacuum-packed bags of cannabis were also found hidden in a coal bunker at the back of the house and another five bags of cannabis were found in Murphy's car.

The court heard that CCTV footage was harvested from an industrial estate in Co Meath showing Murphy collecting the bags of cannabis and putting them into his car.

The total weight of the drugs was just under 13kg, and total street value was estimated to be €259,120, Insp Hanley said.

Mr O'Higgins told the court that his client is a married father of five, adding that Murphy's adult children are all disgusted by his actions but are supporting him as their father.

Counsel handed in testimonials from Murphy's sons, his brother, family friends and from members of community organisations for which Murphy has carried out charitable work and raised funds.

Mr O'Higgins said he was instructed by Murphy to offer a public apology to his family for the hurt and embarrassment his actions have caused.

Character reference

Counsel said his client was inherently a good person who has done many honourable things in his life. He said the character references described an honest, hardworking man.

Mr O'Higgins said Murphy had served the State both in the Defence Forces and as a garda, adding that his 40 years of public service must stand to him.

Judge Nolan said he accepted that as a former garda, Murphy's time in prison so far has been difficult, but he said it was up to prison authorities to deal with that situation.

He said Murphy was not an innocent abroad when he chose to commit these offences. “He was a man of some substance and some character and should have been able to withstand the temptation of easy money but he didn’t,” the judge added.

Judge Nolan said it was hard to know what position Murphy had in the drug dealing enterprise, but it seemed he was holding the drugs for third parties and he knew exactly what the criminal behaviour was.

The court previously heard that Murphy’s address was not read out due to security concerns.

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