Suspended sentences for drug possession


Two Tallaght men who were found with £3 million worth of cannabis in flower pots have been given suspended sentences at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The court was told the premises used to store the drugs has been destroyed by vigilantes. Maurice O'Riordan (24), of Pineview Road, and Christopher Burke (28), of Kilmartin Drive, pleaded guilty to possession of the cannabis resin and amphetamine with the intent to supply on November 13, 1997.

Judge Frank O'Donnell imposed a seven-year sentence on O'Riordan and a four-year sentence on Burke.

He suspended both sentences for two years and said that had it not been for favourable garda and probation reports, both men would have gone to prison. The court also heard that anti-drugs vigilantes ordered Burke to move out of the area. They told him he could visit his children in Tallaght on three nights a week.

Judge O'Donnell said it was a sad that certain people are allowed to control who visits parts of the city.

Detective Sgt Greg Sheehan said neither man was heavily involved in the drugs operation and were unaware of its extent until the day it was uncovered. Det Sgt Sheehan told Mr John Peart SC, prosecuting, that the flower plants had arrived on a lorry from Holland. Gardai witnessed a process in which the plants were dismantled and the bags removed and replanted in moss.

The cannabis weighed 300 kg and was stashed in 2kg bags. The bags were stored in the earth of each pot plant. A kilo of amphetamine was also found. Det Sgt Sheehan said the two defendants were spotted at the time of the search standing at the back of the van and were taking the cannabis out of the plants.

O'Riordan worked as a courier and fixed motor cycles in his spare time. He started smoking cannabis at an early age and progressed to smoking heroin. Det Sgt Sheehan agreed with Mr Anthony Sammon SC, for O'Riordan, that others had made an offer to him to store the cannabis in return for money to help pay a heroin debt. He believed O'Riordan would not re-offend. He was not the "puffed-up drug creature" he had previously dealt with.

Burke did not have a drug problem and was unlikely to re-offend, the court heard.