RNLI volunteer jailed for seven years on drugs charges

The Irish Times. By Barry Roche.

An RNLI volunteer honoured for his part in the rescue of 30 students when a sailing ship sank off the west Cork coast has been jailed for seven years after he admitted distributing and storing almost €270,000 worth of drugs in his home.

Liam O’Connell from Presentation Terrace, Kinsale, was sentenced to 10 years in jail with three years suspended after he pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis, cocaine and MDMA or ecstasy for sale or supply at his home on October 27th 2017.

Five years ago, O’Connell, who was a cox of the RNLI lifeboat Ms Sally Anne Baggy, was honoured with a West Cork Community Award for his role in helping rescue 30 sailing students from the tall ship Astrid when it hit rocks and sank off Kinsale in July 2013.

Det Sgt Joanne O’Brien told Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Friday how members of the West Cork Divisional Drugs Squad received intelligence about O’Connell and during a search Det Garda Colin O’Mahony found three bags hidden in a wardrobe in O’Connell’s bedroom.

Gardaí found the bags contained large amounts of cocaine, cannabis and MDMA worth a combined total of €269,000.

Det Sgt O’Brien said that gardaí also found a ledger in the room which was being used as a tick list for dealers that O’Connell was supplying and he admitted previously collecting drugs in Dublin and bringing them to Kinsale where he stored them for distribution.

He was to be paid €6,700 for distributing and storing the seized drugs, said Det Sgt O’Brien, adding that O’Connell had no previous convictions. He had previously worked as a fisherman and on the buildings but was on social welfare at the time of the seizure.

Defence counsel, Siobhán Lankford SC said that her client was a valuable member of the volunteer RNLI crew in Kinsale and she presented a testimonial where one character witness said that O’Connell was the man to call if somebody found themselves in trouble off the Old Head of Kinsale at 4am.

Read the full story at The Irish Times.

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