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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Boxer who 'lost his way' is jailed over €40k cocaine haul

Begley was ashamed of his actions and had since turned his life around, the court heard. (Stock image)
Begley was ashamed of his actions and had since turned his life around, the court heard. (Stock image)

A champion boxer has been jailed for 16 months after he was caught holding €40,000 worth of cocaine in order to pay off a drug debt.

Andrew Begley (25), of Monastery Gate, Clondalkin, who previously won a Leinster championship and boxed at national level, "lost his way when he left school" and developed a cocaine habit, his barrister told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

He pleaded guilty to possession of 581 grammes of cocaine at his home on April 10, 2015. He was also caught with €62 worth of cannabis.

He has eight previous convictions for minor road traffic offences.

Judge Martin Nolan suspended the final 32 months of a four-year sentence on strict conditions.

He accepted evidence that Begley was holding the drugs for someone, but said he knew what he was doing and had associated himself with people involved in the drugs trade.

Gda Ciaran O'Neill told prosecuting counsel Fergal Foley that Begley's home was searched after a tip-off.

A large quantity of cocaine, a tick-list and mixing agent were later found in a wardrobe and a bedside locker in Begley's room.

Searched

Begley was not at home when gardai arrived, but turned up after his mother called him to say the house was being searched.

He took responsibility for the drugs and said he had been handing quantities of cocaine over when instructed to do so.

Gda O'Neill said officers were not entirely satisfied with Begley's explanation, but accepted that it was not his handwriting on the tick-list.

He agreed that he was a drug addict at the time, but was now completely clean.

Gda O'Neill agreed with defence counsel Dominic McGinn that there was no further evidence to suggest Begley was drug-dealing.

Mr McGinn told Judge Nolan that his client had "excelled in football" as a youngster before he became involved in boxing.

He said he began to dabble in drugs in his early 20s, before falling into an "uncontrollable cocaine habit".

"He was using far more than he could afford, ran into debt with his suppliers and owed dealers about €5,000," he said.

He said Begley was intimidated and his mother was threatened. He was told if he held the drugs, part of his debt would be written off.

Begley was ashamed of his actions and had since turned his life around, the court heard.

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