A Waterford courier who was caught transporting €119,000 of ketamine through Dublin Airport to offset a drug debt has been jailed for four years.
The court heard that father-of-two Conor Freeman (33) had amassed a €5,750 cocaine debt from when he and his partner had lived in the UK.
Paul Comiskey O’Keeffe BL, defending, submitted that Freeman moved to Waterford for a “clean break” but that third parties tracked him down through his business adverts on social media.
Counsel said his client agreed to transport the drugs to offset his debt to these third parties.
Freeman, of Rockenham, Ferrybank, Waterford, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing 2kg of ketamine worth €119,310 at Dublin Airport on April 9, 2017. He has no previous convictions.
Detective Garda Ian Mangan said that customs officers stopped Freeman on his way into the country from Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
The detective told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that the officials discovered £12,000 cash and three containers of white rock-like crystals after putting Freeman’s bags through the X-ray machine.
He said these containers were labelled “bath salts”. Det Gda Mangan revealed that the customs officers seized the money but let Freeman go as there was no on-the-spot testing for the presence of ketamine.
After the drugs were forensically examined, gardaí contacted Freeman and he made full admissions in interview. He said he had had a cocaine addiction and had run up a debt for getting drugs “on tick”.
Det Gda Mangan agreed with Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe that his client had been stopped at the airport because customs officials were looking for money.
Mr Comiskey O’Keeffe submitted to Judge Martin Nolan that his client’s recreational drug use had turned into a dependency when he and his partner ran a cafe in Ibiza in 2012.
Counsel said when Freeman moved to the UK, he connected with people he had known in Ibiza and the drug debt started to accumulate.
Mr Comiskey O’Keefe told Judge Nolan that Freeman’s partner was deeply concerned about his drug use in the UK and the family decided to move to Waterford for a clean break.
He said the people his client owed money owed money to tracked him down through his business adverts online.
Counsel submitted that ketamine was not the softest drug or the hardest drug and that its users didn’t tend to rely on criminality to feed their habits. He said Freeman was not motivated to transport the drugs by gain, but by fear.
Judge Nolan accepted that Freeman was unlikely to ever re-offend and noted that he worked hard at his courier business.
He imposed the four year sentence and ordered that the £12,000 seized with the drugs be confiscated by the State.