DPP v Keogh & O'Leary

JurisdictionIreland
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
JudgeBirmingham J.
Judgment Date26 Nov 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] IECA 31

[2014] IECA 31

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Ryan P.

Birmingham J.

Sheehan J.

198/12
319/12
DPP v Keogh & O'Leary
The People at the Suit of the Director of Public Prosecutions
Respondent
V
Jason Keogh and Niall O'Leary
Appellants

DPP v LERNIHAN UNREP CCA 18.4.2007 2007/19/3889 2007 IECCA 21

Criminal law - Appeal against severity of sentence - Imprisonment - Thirteen years with three years suspended - Drugs offences - Surveillance operation-100 kilos Cannabis vacuum packed - Value of €1.2m - Admissions in course of detention - Early plea - Whether error of principle

Facts The appellants sought to appeal against the severity of the sentences imposed on them. The sentence was one of 13 years with the final 3 years suspended. The Gardaí arranged and carried out a surveillance operation on 20 July 2011. Jason Keogh was observed collecting seven blue barrels and placing them in a van that he was driving. Thereafter he was joined, travelling in convoy by his co-appellant, Niall O"Leary. They stopped at a B & Q in order to purchase an electric saw. The saw was audible in the surrounding area. Consequently, the Gardaí sought and obtained a warrant and entered the premises. 100 kilos of Cannabis vacuum packed with a street value of €1.2m was discovered and seized. The pair were arrested. During the course of detention, Mr Keogh made admissions to the role he played, the value of the drugs and how much he was being paid for his services. He said he became involved by an encounter with a third party. He was very cooperative in terms of answering questions put to him. Mr O"Leary too made admissions in the course of his detention. In his case, the admissions came during the course of the third interview that was conducted with him. Both appellants entered early pleas.

Held The appellants had much in common. The judge identified certain aggravating and mitigating factors in relation to both men. Mitigating factors included an early plea, cooperation with the Gardaí, admissions, remorse, absence of previous convictions and the fact that they were assessed as being at low risk of re-offending. The judge identified certain aggravating factors including the seriousness of the offence, the extent of their involvement, the fact they were aware of the street value of the drugs and that they were involved for financial gain. Particular reference was made to Mr Keogh"s mental health issues. It was argued the trial judge failed to explore and consider these issues when determining the appropriate sentence. In the case of Mr O"Leary, it was said the judge did not take sufficiently into account the fact that he was the father of a number of children and that imposition of a sentence of imprisonment, however substantial, would impact the children significantly. Nevertheless, the judge came to the conclusion that the sentence of ten years imprisonment was not unjust.

-The judge was entitled to come to the conclusion that he did. There was no error of principle and so the appeal was dismissed

1

1. In this case the appellants appeal to this Court against the severity of a sentence imposed upon them. In each case the sentence appealed is one of thirteen years imprisonment with the final three years suspended. The sentence under appeal was imposed on Mr. Jason Keogh on the 23 rd May, 2012, and on Mr. Niall O'Leary in November 2012.

2

2. The background facts are that on the 20 th July, 2011, the Garda National Drugs Unit mounted a surveillance operation at a warehouse unit in Swords Business Park. There, Jason Keogh was seen to collect seven blue barrels and place them in a vehicle (a van) that he was driving. Thereafter he was joined in travelling in convoy towards Woodview Cottages in Bettystown by his co-appellant Niall O'Leary with them stopping on the way at a B & Q in order to purchase an electric saw. Soon after the arrival of the two men in Bettystown, the sound of an electric saw in operation was audible. In those circumstances, the gardaí sought and obtained a warrant and entered the premises. There the gardaí (National Drugs Unit) found approximately 100 kilos of cannabis vacuum packed, which by that stage had been removed from the blue barrels and there was also one unopened blue barrel still in the vehicle.

3

3. Both appellants were arrested and in the course of his detention Jason Keogh admitted that he had driven the van to Swords to collect the cannabis, that he had rented the van in advance...

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