‘Dark net’ drug-dealer loses appeal over jail sentence

Neil Mannion (35) had pleaded guilty to the possession of €143,000 worth of narcotics

The ‘brains’ behind a ‘dark net’ drug-dealing operation has lost an appeal against his six-and-a-half year jail sentence in the Court of Appeal.

The ‘brains’ behind a ‘dark net’ drug-dealing operation has lost an appeal against his six-and-a-half year jail sentence in the Court of Appeal.

 

The “brains” behind a “dark net” drug-dealing operation has lost an appeal against his six-and-a-half year jail sentence in the Court of Appeal.

Neil Mannion (35), of Mount Drummond Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, was sentenced after pleading guilty to possession of €143,000 worth of LSD, amphetamine and cannabis resin for sale or supply at Bankhouse Business Centre, South Circular Road, on November 5th, 2014.

Dismissing Mannion’s appeal against the sentence, which was handed down at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in December 2015, Mr Justice George Birmingham said gardaí had information relating to a particular computer IP address which was engaged in the sale and supply of drugs via the “dark net”.

Mannion had been put under surveillance and was seen visiting the premises with the IP address in question.

A search of the premises revealed a weighing scale, various Visa Electron cards, a vacuum-packing machine, brown and white envelopes, labels for postage and foil wrapping.

After his arrest, Mannion had accepted that his role was as a vendor of drugs.

People would put in orders over the internet and he would package and send the items.

Orders had been dispatched to several countries, including the UK, the US, Mexico, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Finland and Ireland.

Gardaí found Mannion to be co-operative when interviewed in terms of providing relevant passwords and explaining the mechanics of how the system worked.

He said he realised he had made a “very big mistake”.

He told gardaí his business was reasonably successful.

“When I did it first I didn’t expect to have hundreds of customers or get so much attention. Things just flew a bit out of control,” he told them.

‘Not a normal criminal’

Det Sgt Brian Roberts said Mannion was “not the normal type of criminal that we deal with at the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, if I can put it that way”.

He said Mannion had a long history of drug use and came from a “very respectable” background. He had worked for Eircom for a number of years up to 2013 and brought a number of testimonials to court.

Counsel for Mannion, Michael Bowman SC, submitted that the disparity between Mannion’s sentence and that of his co-accused could not be justified and the sentence was excessive.

Dismissing the appeal, the judge said the roles of Mannion and his co-accused were very different and thus significantly different sentences were proper and necessary in this case.

The original sentencing judge in the Circuit Court had said that Mannion appeared to be “the brains of the operation”, while his co-accused “followed his instructions”.