Former SF election candidate jailed for possession of drugs

Gardaí initially told drugs were for the use of man and his girlfriend while away on break

The gardaí found cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in a metal tin inside the red bag and the defendant admitted ownership of the drugs.

The gardaí found cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in a metal tin inside the red bag and the defendant admitted ownership of the drugs.

 

A former Sinn Féin election candidate who was found in possession of €15,000 worth of illegal drugs was jailed for three years at Naas Circuit Court on Thursday.

Martin Kelly (46), of Hazelmere, Naas, had pleaded guilty to possessing drugs for sale or supply at Newbridge Road, Naas on September 3rd 2019.

At a previous court hearing Detective Garda Louise Fleming told of observing the defendant acting suspiciously near a pub - Swan Dowling’s - at Newbridge Road, Naas, shortly before 1pm on the date in question.

The defendant, who leased the pub, was carrying a red bag and looked anxiously around. He got into a Mercedes car.

The gardaí found cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in a metal tin inside the red bag and he admitted ownership of the drugs.

A warrant was secured before the pub was searched. Gardaí found MDMA, also known as ecstasy and cocaine and in an office building benzocaine, a mixing agent, was discovered.

During a subsequent garda interview the defendant said he was going away for a brief break with his girlfriend. He denied selling the drugs and said they were for him and his girlfriend.

He stored the drugs because of his “fear of other people” and wasn’t making money from it, the court heard. He also denied selling drugs in the pub.

Senior counsel Damien Colgan, defending, told the court at the previous hearing that a probation report indicated he was under financial pressure at the time and he had no previous convictions.

The court also heard that he spoke to gardaí without the services of a solicitor and he denied every offer of legal assistance during interview.

Mr Colgan further said his client’s cooperation had been second to none and the gardaí­ were aware he had been dealing with dangerous people.

The court heard he had been working seven days a week but the pub has since closed.

Mr Colgan said he is at a low risk of reoffending and has not come to adverse attention since the incident.

The court heard he supports his children and a number of people, including former employers, speak highly of him with one describing him as an excellent character.

Judge Mary O’Malley Costello gave him a five year prison term with the final two years suspended.

Kelly contested the 2011 General Election, running for a seat in Kildare North as Sinn Féin’s sole candidate in the constituency. He received nearly 2,900 first preference votes before being eliminated on the third count.