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File photo. Alamy Stock Photo

Man pleads guilty over seizure of €8.5 million of cocaine allegedly flown into midlands

Tim Gilchrist appeared for arraignment before Judge Keenan Johnson at Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court.

A WATERFORD MAN has pleaded guilty and has been remanded in custody pending sentencing over a seizure of about €8.5 million of cocaine allegedly flown into the midlands in 2022.

Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) officers, supported by other units, monitored a Cessna single-engine aircraft landing at Abbeyshrule Aerodrome, Co Longford, shortly after 6pm on 4 August 2022.

Later that evening, they intercepted two vehicles in the Lough Owel area in Co Westmeath, recovering 120 kilogrammes of cocaine from one car.

Gardaí arrested Tim Gilchrist, 56, of Mavis Bank, Newrath, Waterford and pilot Michal Luczak, 43, a Polish national formerly with an address at Primrose Avenue, Jigginstown, Naas, Co Kildare, and now living in Skerries, Dublin.

Gilchrist, who has never applied for bail since his arrest, appeared again for arraignment before Judge Keenan Johnson at Mullingar Circuit Criminal Court today.

He is accused of possessing drugs worth €13,000 or more for sale or supply at Lough Owel, Irishtown, Co Westmeath, on the date of his arrest.

The offence can attract a 10-year sentence.

Dressed in a grey tracksuit, Gilchrist confirmed his name and replied “guilty” when the charge was put to him.

John Hayden BL, prosecuting, told the court the value of the drugs in the case was about €8.5 million.

Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, said Gilchrist had no prior convictions, and he applied for an adjournment to prepare documentation about his client’s good character for the next hearing.

Judge Johnson remanded Gilchrist in custody to appear again on 2 July for sentence but did not think it necessary to seek a probation report at this stage.

Garda evidence and a mitigation plea will also be heard at his next court appearance.

Co-accused Luczak, who has lived in Ireland for 17 years, is charged with the same offence but at a different location, the Abbeyshrule Aerodrome, on 4 August 2022.

The father of two remains on bail and has already indicated he would plead not guilty. Today, Judge Johnson heard Luczak’s jury trial was expected to last two weeks.

His case was adjourned until 9 April, when it will be listed for mention to allocate dates for his trial.