Caught moving cocaine in specially modified car

By Declan Brennan

A judge has jailed a man caught moving two kilos of cocaine in a specially modified car after saying she didn’t think claims that he was under pressure were credible.

Judge Elma Sheahan said that submissions from Francis Lynch (28) that he was acting under duress because he had built up a “drug debt” were not supported by evidence.

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice 2 October 2016

During a garda operation last April (2020) Lynch was put under surveillance and was observed driving a Ford Kuga jeep type vehicle from his home in Cloonmore Crescent, Tallaght. Lynch pulled into De Selby park in Tallaght where he met co-accused Alan O’Flaherty (37) who was driving his own car.

Gardai observed Lynch take a bag from his vehicle and drop it into the passenger seat of the second car. Both cars then drove off towards the N81 but gardai stopped the cars and carried out searches.

The bag was found to contain around 2kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of approximately €139,000, Derek Cooney BL told the court.

The vehicles were seized and an examination of the Kuga found it had a concealed section in the back which could only be assessed by a false floor operated by hydraulic.

Gardai had to force the concealed section open but after his arrest Lynch told investigators that a switch to control this mechanism was in the footwell of the driver seat.

O’Flaherty of Nangor Place, Clondalkin and Lynch both pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of drugs for sale or supply on April 4, 2020.

Lawyers for Lynch said their instructions were that he had built up a drugs debt and was put under pressure to pay it off.

Judge Sheahan said she had “grave reservations” about these submissions made on behalf of Lynch and said they were not credible.

She said that the evidence was that Lynch stated during his garda interviews that he didn’t do drugs because his uncle had died as a result of heroin use and he had two relatives who were drug addicts.

Lynch said he had no drug debt and told gardai that he carried out the crime for money because he had so little money left over from his “dole” payments to support his family, the court heard.

He told gardai he was getting €100 to complete the transfer of the drugs. Judge Sheahan said that others had entrusted Lynch with a vehicle which had been specially modified and customised to allow for the concealment of drugs.

This indicated he was trusted and was to play a more significant role than this one off transfer. In interview Lynch said it was probable that he would be asked to do more jobs. She said she did accept as mitigating factors his plea of guilty, his remorse and the support he provides to his children and family.

She also noted a history of depression. She said that a defendant acting under duress can be treated more leniently but that this wasn’t the case for Lynch.

She suspended the final year of a four and a half year prison term. She remanded O’Flaherty to October 7 next for sentence.

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