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The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin (file photo) Alamy Stock Photo
Philip Lawless

DHL worker charged over €3m drug seizure had 'central role in sophisticated operation', court told

Philip Lawless was refused bail when he appeared before Dublin District Court today.

A DHL WORKER has been accused of having a “central role” in a “sophisticated operation” following the seizure of just over €3 million worth of cannabis and cocaine in Dublin.

Officers from the Garda Dublin Crime Response Team based at Dublin Castle arrested father-of-four Philip Lawless, 47, on Wednesday and held him at Kevin Street station.

The courier firm employee, with an address at River Forest Park, Leixlip, Co Kildare, was charged on Friday evening with possessing cannabis and cocaine for sale or supply at a storage facility in Ballymount Industrial Estate.

He was also charged with having cannabis for sale or supply at a property on Beresford Street in the north inner city.

Lawless was refused bail when he appeared before Judge Marie Quirke at Dublin District Court on Saturday.

Garda Tara Higgins told the court Lawless, who was supported in court by his wife and elderly father, “made no reply” to the Misuse of Drugs Act charges.

Objecting to bail, the officer said that drugs worth an excess of €3 million were located at multiple locations, and samples had been tested, confirming they were cannabis and cocaine.

Garda Higgins alleged that 115 kilos of cannabis worth €2.3 million were recovered at a storage unit in Ballymount Industrial Estate, along with 10 kilos of cocaine valued at €700,000 and another €6,000 worth of cannabis was also recovered at the second location.

Unique code

Garda Higgins alleged that the accused had a key and a “unique code” to the storage facility, and there was excellent CCTV evidence of him carrying boxes containing cannabis and cocaine into the unit.

The garda maintained there was strong evidence; the accused was caught “red-handed” and arrested on the grounds where he had the key in his possession. It was also claimed that he was the leaseholder.

Garda Higgins agreed with defence counsel Kevin McCrave, instructed by solicitor Niall O’Connor, that the accused still had the presumption of innocence and he could face a lengthy wait until the trial.

The court heard that Forensic Science Ireland, which conducts drug analysis for the criminal justice system, has already tested some of the seizure.

The garda also said a file would be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, the case would likely be upgraded, and a further charge was possible. She added that it would get priority given the value of the substances.

Under cross-examination, Garda Higgins acknowledged that two other people had been charged with connected offences.

However, she alleged that the accused “played a central role in this sophisticated operation” and no bail conditions would satisfy her concerns.

Sole provider

Pleading for bail, counsel submitted that his client, who did not address the court, had lived at his current address for 17 years and had four children and a grandchild.

The judge heard that his arrest had upset his family, which depended on Lawless, the sole provider in the household.

The defence said he would obey various conditions, including surrendering his passport and phone and a curfew order.

McCrave also stressed that his client had no history of convictions or warrants and had not come to Garda attention.

He said there was a presumption of innocence and a presumption in favour of bail, and submitted that there was no evidence given that he would not turn up for trial or that he was involved in a crime cycle.

The court heard that Lawless, yet to indicate a plea, had worked for DHL but risked losing his job.

Judge Quirke said he was still presumed innocent but described the charges as serious and noted the garda objections. She denied his bail application and remanded Lawless in custody to appear at Cloverhill District Court on Tuesday.

The judge also deferred granting legal aid to allow gardaí to examine the defendant’s statement of means. Two other men were charged and appeared in court on Friday.