Men accused over Ballyseedy Garden Centre crystal meth haul further remanded in custody

Solicitor says bail application for James Leen (41) being heard in High Court, while Nathan McDonnell (43) appealing refusal of his bid

STOCK: The Courts of Criminal Justice on Parkgate St. Dublin
Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times
The Criminal Courts of Justice Exterior view

Books of evidence are not yet ready in the cases of two Co Kerry men charged in connection with the largest ever seizure of crystal meth in the State, Tralee District Court has heard.

Nathan McDonnell (43), of Ballyroe, Tralee, is charged that between October 27th, 2023 and February 12th, 2024, at Ballyseedy Garden Centre, Tralee, he had in his possession methylamphetamine with a market value of €13,000 or more for sale or supply. Mr McDonnell, who the court previously heard replied “not guilty” when charged, is the chief executive of the Ballyseedy Group.

James Leen (41), of Pilgrim Hill, Kilmorna, Listowel, is charged with the same offence. Mr Leen is further charged that, on October 16th, 2023, at Cork Port, Ringaskiddy, he did import methylamphetamine with a value of €13,000 or more. He made no reply when charged with the offences, the court previously heard.

The men were arrested in connection with the discovery 543kg of crystal meth, with an estimated value of €32.8 million, in a container in the Port of Cork. The court previously heard this had been shipped from Mexico inside a machine and stored at Ballyseedy Garden Centre since October.


The men first appeared before the court on February 23rd last and have been remanded in custody since, appearing via video link at regular intervals. Sgt Chris Manton told Judge Mark O’Connell a further two-week remand was being sought.

Pat Mann, solicitor for Mr Leen, said he was agreeing to the remand and that a bail application for his client was being heard in the High Court. Mr McDonnell was recently refused bail in the High Court and is taking the matter to the Court of Appeal.

Judge Mark O’Connell asked if the books of evidence would be ready in two weeks and Sgt Manton replied that it was “highly unlikely” they would be. The judge remanded both men in custody to appear via video link on April 24th.