Kildare man jailed for two years over drug transport job for €50

Shane Percival thought he was driving friend to pick up ‘a few ounces of cannabis’

Judge Martin Nolan accepted Shane Percival was of good character and was unlikely to come before the court again.

Judge Martin Nolan accepted Shane Percival was of good character and was unlikely to come before the court again.

 

A Kildare man who was paid €50 to drive his friend to a €560,000 heroin deal in a “reprehensible error of judgment” has been jailed for two years.

Shane Percival (24) has no previous convictions and told gardaí­ he thought he was just driving his friend to pick up “a few ounces of cannabis”.

Sentencing him in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Friday, Judge Martin Nolan accepted Percival was of good character and was unlikely to come before the court again.

He also noted a custodial sentence would be hard on Percival’s family, as he helps care for his intellectually disabled sister. However, the judge said he had to mark the seriousness of the crime, given it involved more than half a million euro worth of drugs.

“I’ve been as lenient as I can,” he said, handing down a sentence of two years, adding the sentence was for “deterrence and punishment”.

“It was a reprehensible error of judgment,” Judge Nolan said.

Percival of Mount Prospect, Rathangan, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing drugs for sale or supply at Aldi supermarket, Newlands Cross, Co Dublin, on December 9th, 2015.

Surveillance operation

Det Garda Thomas Griffin told Dean Kelly, prosecuting, that a Garda surveillance operation was in place on Percival’s co-accused, Gareth Prior, who had a number of previous convictions for drug offences.

On the day in question, Percival was observed driving the car, in which Prior was a passenger. They parked in Aldi car park and, a short while later, Prior was observed carrying a bag and interacting with a man in another car, identified by gardaí­ as one Michael White.

Gardaí­ swooped on both cars and a bag containing four kilos of heroin was seized. The drugs had a street value of €560,000.

When interviewed by gardaí, Percival said he had agreed to drive Prior for €50 and he said he had no idea of the scale of the drug deal. He has never come to Garda attention before.

Dominic McGinn SC, defending, said his client was not a target in the Garda surveillance operation and his only role was to drive the car. “He was significantly less involved in this offence,” Mr McGinn said.

Gainful employment

Mr McGinn said Percival had been in gainful employment since he left school and currently worked for a concrete company. He handed up a number of references which described him as “diligent” and “hard-working”.

The court heard Percival lives with his elderly parents and helps care for his sister, who is intellectually disabled. Mr McGinn submitted a custodial sentence would mean “a huge degree of hardship” for the Percival family, who rely on his support.

Mr McGinn said his client “recognises the stupidity of what he’s done” and he urged Judge Nolan to consider imposing a non-custodial sentence.

Prior (36) of Ramblers Court, Celbridge, Co Kildare, was previously jailed for 12 years with the final three years suspended, while White (42) of Moorefield Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin, was jailed for six years with the final three years suspended.