By Jessica Magee
A Dublin man has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison after he admitted to driving a van containing cannabis valued at €600,000.
Michael Campbell (31) of New Priory apartments, Donaghmede, Dublin 13, pleaded guilty to possessing almost 30 kilos of the drug for sale or supply when he was stopped at the Ballymun exit of the M50 on June 22 last.
At a hearing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, counsel for Campbell said he was put under pressure by third parties to transport the drugs after he racked up a drug debt of €1,000 to €2,000.
Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, defending Campbell, said her client was “the lowest of the low” in terms of other people involved in the drugs operation and had been left with little option but to commit the offence.
Ms Lawlor said her client had no knowledge of the quantity of the drugs he had been asked to transport.
Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Martin Nolan agreed that Campbell would not have known the quantity of the drugs beforehand, but said “he must have had an idea” after the drugs were placed in the van.
The court heard that gardaí found six black plastic bags containing cannabis were found in the back of a Ford van driven by Campbell on the day.
An investigating garda told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that a surveillance operation of other people had been mounted at the time but that Campbell himself was not on the garda radar.
Campbell was observed driving the Ford van into an Aldi carpark at Palmerstown, Dublin 20 and then getting out, the court heard.
Another person then drove the van off and returned sometime later, whereupon Campbell again got into the van and drove off before being stopped by gardaí.
He was arrested, and although he was polite and cooperative with gardaí, he made no admissions. Campbell has no previous convictions.
Ms Lawlor said Campbell had an excellent work record and came from a good family, but had started to abuse drugs and became homeless.
The court heard that Campbell has faced his charges head-on and relinquished his bail last September voluntarily.
A prosecuting garda said he would be “very surprised” if Campbell were to come before the courts again.
Judge Nolan acknowledged that Campbell had been under a level of duress but said this was by reason of his own action, adding that third parties had taken advantage of Campbell’s drug addiction.
Handwritten letters from Campbell and from his parents, who were present in court, were handed into court.
Judge Nolan sentenced him to three years in prison and backdated the sentence to September 12, 2022.