We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo

Limerick shopkeeper who used grocery business as front for cocaine mixing factory is jailed for six years

Declan Sheehy was found preparing over €208,000 worth of cocaine in the kitchen of his grocery shop.

A SHOPKEEPER-DRUG DEALER told gardaÍ “I’m f****d now” when they walked in on him in the kitchen of his small grocery shop in Limerick, preparing over €208,000 worth of cocaine in mixing bowls.

Surrounded by white powder, weighing scales, a blender and mixing bowls, Declan Sheehy, (58), told gardaí the cocaine was his.

The father for four also admitted he owned €58,000 cash, found by gardaí in a couch at the shop and at his home, of which €51,000 was deemed by the court to be the proceeds of crime.

Sheehy, of Janemount Park, Corbally, Limerick, who was using his family’s fourth generation grocery shop as a cocaine mixing factory, was jailed for seven and half years with the final 18 months suspended.

“It’s a shocker that a small business in Limerick City, which was run by the accused’s family for four generations, wound up being a front for the distribution and sale and supply of cocaine,” said sentencing judge Tom O’Donnell.

“This was in an area blighted by drugs and here is someone who might be considered an upstanding member of society who was openly running a nefarious business,” the judge said.

“Cocaine is one of the worst scourges in this city and has  consequences when people are addicted to it, the damage it causes,” judge O’Donnell said.

The judge said that Sheehy had admitted owning the drugs “and that makes him the main (player) in this”.

“I have no doubt he knows the damage it (cocaine) causes, and he has contributed to it.”

Judge O’Donnell said Sheehy “found himself evidentially compromised and surrounded by drugs and drug paraphernalia”.

Acting on a tip off, members of the Limerick Garda Divisional Drug Unit, raided Sheehy’s shop at St Mary’s Park and found him alone in the kitchen mixing cocaine, on November 21, 2022.

Detective Garda Adrian Cahill, of the garda drug unit, told the court: “A block of cocaine was found by gardaí in a bin in the kitchen.”

“There was a silver mixing bowl containing white powder, white power was being separated, there were mixing agents in a blender, weighing scales and a knife with white powder on it,” he said.

Asked by prosecuting barrister, Lily Buckley BL, if Sheehy “was literally caught in the act?”, the Garda replied, “Yes”.

When gardaí asked Sheehy who owned the drugs he replied: “It’s mine, I’m f****d now, it’s cocaine.”

Gardaí recovered a total off €58,000 in cash at the shop and at Sheehy’s home, however €7,000 was accounted earnings.

Sheehy told gardaí he inherited the shop, from his mother who had invested from her mother, and he had been running it for the past 20 years.

Sheehy told gardaí that the shop was paying him an annual salary of around €30,000.

Garda Cahill told the court: “I believe he (Sheehy) was running his own wholesale distribution business from his back kitchen and benefitting from it.”

Garda Cahill said Sheehy showed signs of wealth, and that there was no mortgage on his home or his shop, and he was the outright owner of both properties.

The court heard Sheehy had a number of previous convictions, including his last one in June 2004, after he pleaded guilty to one count of violent disorder and received three years in jail for his involvement in a “pitched battle” between feuding rivals outside a fast food restaurant in 2003.

During the much publicised melee at the time, a variety of weapons including a golf club, a steering lock and a snooker cue were used outside the former Supermacs outlet on the Ennis Road, Limerick.

Sheehy also had convictions for public order matters, as well as for a historic conviction in 1985, when he was 18, for aggravated burglary for which he was jailed for seven years.

Represented by senior counsel Michael Bowman and junior counsel Pat Barriscale, Sheehy was co-operative with gardaí, facilitated them searching his shop and his home, and admitted to all offences, it was heard.

Sheehy pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of cocaine for sale or supply, two counts of possessing cash suspected of being the proceeds of crime, and to possessing articles said to be drug paraphernalia.

As well as receiving six years in jail on one of the cocaine charges, Sheehy was given two concurrent five-year terms, in respect of one of the proceeds of crime charges and the drug paraphernalia charge. The other charges were taken into consideration.

When Sheehy was initially charged in court in November 2022, Gardaí gave evidence that he was then “heavily involved in the sale and supply of drugs in Limerick”.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.