A pub manager has been given a suspended sentence after a quantity of amphetamines were found in concealed compartments in the Dublin pub where he worked.
Kevin Kelleher (50) of Dunsamhradh, Kentstown, Navan, Co Meath pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of just under three kilograms of the drug, worth €43,000, on February 4, 2022.
Garda Jamie Greville told Jane McCudden BL prosecuting, that gardaí set up a surveillance operation around the pub having received a tip off and called to the premises around 2am under the guise of checking for after hours licensing.
Kelleher was identified as the pub manager and the building was later searched after a warrant was secured. The drugs were found in two separate areas in the ladies’ bathroom and a concealed roof area in a store room.
Garda Greville said that Kelleher was also caught on CCTV footage moving the drugs. He was arrested and taken in for questioning.
He claimed that he had been put under duress and threatened to store the drugs there.
Gda Greville confirmed that Kelleher has no previous convictions and showed “no material wealth”.
He agreed with Paul Murray SC, defending, that his client has never come to garda attention before or since and that he had gone “out on a limb to exonerate others” who may have been implicated.
He further agreed that there was no evidence to suggest that Kelleher was paid to hold the drugs, that he had an addiction, that he was holding the drugs to pay off a debt or that he is part of an organised gang.
“He was a hard-working man in the wrong place at the wrong time?” Mr Murray suggested.
“Yes possibly,” Gda Greville replied.
He agreed that Kelleher had a strong history of employment and had been working in the pub for 20 years. He had responsibility for the day-to-day running of the business.
Judge Orla Crowe said the case warranted a headline sentence of four years but reduced that to three years taken into account the remorse Kelleher had demonstrated, the fact that gardaí accept he was acting under duress and that he has “contributed to society in a constructive way”.
She suspended the three-year term in full on strict conditions including that Kelleher keep the peace and be of good behaviour for five years.
“He has offended greatly against society,” Judge Crowe said before she added that she wishes to give Kelleher a chance but said “this will hang over him for five years”.
She acknowledged that Kelleher had entered “the earliest possible plea” and that he was not part of a gang, rather it was accepted that he was “a hard-working man in the wrong place at the wrong time”.