Irishman in ecstasy case gets two-year sentence


An Irishman convicted of possession and trafficking of 25,000 ecstasy tablets in the Netherlands has been jailed for two years but is expected to serve no more than 13 months. Sean O'Flynn (48), of Arigadeen Lawn, Togher, Cork, had been described during his trial in Utrecht as a major link in a Dutch-Irish ecstasy-trafficking racket. O'Flynn, who was convicted of possession of 104kg of hashish in Spain in 1994, allegedly travelled frequently to Holland arranging drugs transportation.

Undercover Dutch police tailing O'Flynn arrested him last August in Utrecht. In his car they found a sports bag containing the ecstasy tablets, which had a street value of half a million guilders (nearly £170,000). According to Garda sources at the time, the haul was intended for distribution throughout Munster. The arrest of O'Flynn and an alleged accomplice, a Dutch national, was the culmination of a major Garda surveillance operation spearheaded by the Garda National Drugs Unit and Cork drugs squad.

The Utrecht public prosecutor had demanded a four-year sentence. He described O'Flynn as a major player in a big ecstasy smuggling operation who allegedly brought £45,000 to buy ecstasy tablets in the Netherlands before his arrest.

According to the police, he had frequent contact with known Dutch drugs traffickers.

Convicting O'Flynn on New Year's Eve, the judge told him: "It has been proven beyond doubt that you were trafficking in ecstasy and stood to gain substantially from your criminal activities. Dealing in ecstasy is a most serious matter. It is a classified hard drug and is most harmful to public health."

The court took into consideration the fact that O'Flynn, while having a large number of convictions against him in Ireland, had no previous criminal record in the Netherlands, and that while he at first denied them he later took responsibility for his criminal activities. Judges also took into account what they described as "the violation of Mr O'Flynn's privacy and that of his family" through the presence of a television camera crew who had filmed his face contrary to Dutch courtroom practice.

The trial opening was abandoned in November after the Irishman protested strongly and refused to co-operate because of the presence of the camera crew, who had been granted permission to attend.

When told he was being sent to jail for two years with four months deducted for the time he already spent in custody, O'Flynn, who shielded his face with a magazine, thanked the judges "for the chance you are giving me". Asked if he wished to appeal, he shook his head and replied "No, no".