Man (80) jailed for transporting drugs worth €470,000 by bus to Dublin

Peter Lam tells court he has a problem with gambling and owes money

An elderly man with a gambling addiction told gardaí that he was transporting drugs worth almost half a million euro from Donegal to Dublin by bus to pay his debts, a court has heard.

Peter Lam (80) told gardaí who asked about his gambling: “When I sleep, I dream of roulette.”

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Lam has a previous conviction in Letterkenny for cultivation and possession of cannabis in 2013 for which he received a three-year suspended sentence.

Lam, of Lisburn Road, Belfast, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Busáras, Dublin 1, on October 11th, 2021.

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Garda Kieran Stapleton told Emmet Nolan, prosecuting, that gardaí in receipt of confidential information intercepted an elderly Asian male who arrived on a bus from Donegal to Busáras with two large boxes. He told gardaí he did not know what was in the boxes.

Garda Stapleton said the boxes were found to contain MDMA valued at €470,982, hidden in pottery boxes and under children’s toys.

Lam told gardaí he had an issue with gambling and owed money. He said he was to bring the boxes to a casino and people were to collect them outside.

Passing sentence on Monday, Judge Mary O’Malley Costello said it was important society was protected from this type of offending.

Judge O’Malley Costello said the court had to take into account Lam’s vulnerabilities, age and health conditions, including diabetes, asthma and mild to moderate mixed vascular dementia, but nevertheless he had pleaded guilty to a serious offence which has consequences on society and the victims who suffer as a result of the moving and dealing of drugs.

She noted there were people higher up the chain than Lam, but said his role as a courier made him an “important cog in the wheel”. She said it was not the first time he had come before the courts.

She took into account his co-operation, his guilty plea, his age, health and lack of English.

Judge O’Malley Costello imposed a sentence of four years and suspended the final 10 months. She said he should also be given credit for the 10 months he has already spent in custody.