Shopkeeper caught with €200,000 of cocaine jailed for ‘running a nefarious business’

Gardaí, acting on a tip-off, found Declan Sheehy (58) in kitchen with white powder, mixing bowls, weighing scales and other drug paraphernalia

Shopkeeper Declan Sheehy was jailed for seven and a half years on Monday. Photograph: Brendan Gleeson

A Limerick shopkeeper who was caught preparing cocaine valued at more than €200,000 in a kitchen area in his grocery store has been jailed for “running a nefarious business”.

Declan Sheehy (58), of Janemount Park, Corbally, told gardaí “I’m f****d now” when they walked into the kitchen and found him with white powder, mixing bowls, weighing scales and other drug-related paraphernalia.

He admitted owning the cocaine and more than €50,000 of cash found by investigators, much of which was deemed to be the proceeds of crime. He was jailed for 7 and a half years with the final 18 months suspended. When he was initially charged in 2022, gardaí told the court he was “heavily involved in the sale and supply of drugs in Limerick”.

“It’s a shocker that a small business in Limerick city, which was run by the accused’s family for four generations, wound up being a front for the distribution and sale and supply of cocaine,” said Judge Tom O’Donnell.

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“This was in an area blighted by drugs and here is someone who might be considered an upstanding member of society who was openly running a nefarious business.”

The court heard that members of the Limerick Garda Divisional Drug Unit, acting on a tip-off, raided Sheehy’s shop at St Mary’s Park and found him mixing cocaine on November 21st, 2022.

Det Garda Adrian Cahill said “a block of cocaine was found by gardaí in a bin in the kitchen” and that there was a silver mixing bowl containing white powder, mixing agents and other related items there.

Gardaí recovered a total off €58,000 in cash at the shop and at Sheehy’s home, but €7,000 was not regarded as being the proceeds of crime.

Sheehy said he inherited the shop from his mother and had been running it for 20 years. He said he was taking an annual salary of around €30,000.

Det Garda Adrian Cahill told the court: “I believe he (Sheehy) was running his own wholesale distribution business from his back kitchen and benefiting from it.” He said Sheehy showed signs of wealth and there was no mortgage on his home or shop.

The court heard Sheehy had a number of previous convictions, the most recent of which dated back to 2004 when he pleaded guilty to violent disorder following a “pitched battle” outside a fast food outlet in 2003.