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Lunchbox of cocaine found in ice-cream van used as cover for major drugs business, court hears

Gardaí also found a drugs invoice which showed €45,000 worth of cocaine had been sold.

File Photo
File Photo
Image: Shutterstock/DrimaFilm

A MOBILE ICE-CREAM van, which sold ice-lollies and cones to children around parks and sports venues, was being used as a cover for a major drugs distribution business, Limerick circuit criminal court heard today.

The owner of the van, Paul Collopy (41), started out in life transporting coal on a horse and cart from the age of 10, but after venturing into the ice cream business, he discovered it was the perfect way to hide and sell drugs.

Paul Collopy pleaded guilty at Limerick circuit court to one count of possessing cocaine for sale or supply at his home, Glenbrook, Bloodmill Rd, Ballysmion, on November 25, 2014

Detective Garda David McGrath, Limerick Drugs Squad, told the court that when gardaí searched the van they discovered over €6,000 worth of cocaine, one batch was found in a lunchbox concealed under the bonnet near the engine, while the other was discovered in “a money bag” near a window in the van where ice-cream would be served to unsuspecting members of the public.

The bag also contained two “tick lists” in which the names of people, “who owed money for drugs”, appeared. The drugs invoice showed €45,000 worth of cocaine had been sold.

When gardaí approached Collopy, who had been standing under the bonnet of the van, he slammed it shut and was seen dropping a spoon and a digital weighing scales.

Gardaí also found €5,000 in cash in Collopy’s house at Glenbrook, Bloodmill Road, Ballysimon.

Collopy, whose family have no criminal connections, had amassed 70 convictions prior to his arrest, the court heard.

Collopy was convicted in December 2007 of selling €17,000 worth of cocaine, and sentenced to five years in jail. He was released in 2011, however in October 2014, he was caught in Ennis with heroin worth €28,000 for sale or supply and was sentenced to six years with the final two year suspended last November.

Detective Garda McGrath said Collopy was a “chronic cocaine and crack cocaine addict”.

My own opinion and the opinion of the divisional drugs squad would be that he is a drugs wholesaler rather than a street dealer. He would be giving the drugs to others to break down for street dealing.

The court heard Collopy, a father of three, was “selling drugs to break even”. “He had a €200 a day drug habit,” McGrath added.

Judge Tom O’Donnell remanded Collopy in custody for sentencing on December 16.

Read: From 0.03% to 91%: Just how pure are the illegal drugs sold in Ireland?>

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David Raleigh

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