Two jailed for possession of almost €1m worth of drugs

Vernon Loughran (59) and Brian Kelly (60) were sentenced to a combined seven and a half years in prison
Two jailed for possession of almost €1m worth of drugs

Claire Henry

Two Dublin men have been sentenced to a combined seven and half years in prison after being found in possession of just under one million euro worth of drugs.

Vernon Loughran (59), of Oakdale Crescent, Firhouse, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis and cocaine worth €840,000 after gardaí carried out a search of his home on March 12th, 2020.

Brian Kelly (60), of Kilmartin Avenue, Fettercairn, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to having cannabis worth €159,000 in a van that he was driving earlier that day.

Dublin Circuit Criminal court heard gardaí received confidential information that Kelly would be transporting drugs in his van on that date. Garda Padraic Rowan gave evidence that he took up surveillance of Kelly’s van at Loughran's house at Oakdale Crescent.

The white Renault van reversed into the driveway, and Kelly went into the house and left carrying a large brown box which he placed into the van. Gardaí followed the van and approached Kelly at a petrol station in Rathcoole.

Gda Rowan told Fiona Crawford BL, prosecuting, that the van was searched and a box containing eight large vacuumed packed packages were seized. Two mobile phones, one of which was a burner phone, were also seized.

Kelly was arrested and brought to Tallaght Garda station.

The court heard that during his interview, Kelly outlined he was sorry for what he did, adding that it was wrong and that he took full responsibility for the drugs.

The drugs were analysed and cannabis worth €159,922 was found.

Kelly told gardaí he became involved in transporting the drugs as his nephew had a drug debt of €30,000, and he believed his nephew was in personal danger.

Search warrant

Gardaí then obtained a search warrant for Loughran's house. Loughran was not home at the time of the search but later presented for interview with gardaí.

The court heard Loughran had become involved due to his habitual cannabis use and had got into debt. As a result, he allowed his home be used as a base to store and distribute drugs.

During the search, drugs worth €840,000 were found at the house. Combined with those discovered in Kelly’s van, drugs worth just under €1 million were seized in total.

Anne Rowland SC, defending Kelly, said her client was a married man with six children. As a result of his drug use, his marriage broke down and he became homeless.

He is now in a long-term relationship and worked as a security supervisor at the Citywest vaccination centre during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said he is also a survivor of the fire at the Stardust nightclub in 1981 and suffers from survivor's guilt. He has now overcome his drug addiction and provides for his children.

Garnet Orange, SC, defending Loughran, said his client had financial difficulties due to problems with alcohol and cannabis, and it was his cannabis habit that drew him into holding drugs.

Counsel said he has a high level of remorse and shame for his actions and pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Judge Melanie Greally said Kelly had a much more confined role and was trying to alleviate his nephew’s difficulties.

She took into account his immediate admissions of guilt, his high level of remorse and his lack of relevant previous convictions, as well as his family circumstances, his employment history, his relationship history, his role in animal welfare and his success in overcoming his drug addictions.

She sentenced Kelly to 30 months in prison.

In sentencing Loughran, Judge Greally outlined the significant value of the drugs stored at his address. She said he was “storing and arranging the distribution of drugs” with the motivation to reduce his drug debt.

Judge Greally took into account his guilty plea, his cooperation and absence of relevant previous convictions, his high level of remorse and shame and his relief in being detected which brought his offending to an end.

She also noted his favourable engagement with the probation and psychological services and that he is at moderate risk of re-offending.

Judge Greally sentenced Loughran to six years in prison with the final 12 months suspended.

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