herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Criminal caught with heroin is selling Christmas trees too

Trees for sale outside the house in Limerick
Trees for sale outside the house in Limerick
Kieran Collopy

A notorious criminal who was caught red-handed cutting up heroin on a kitchen table has been selling Christmas trees from his home.

Brian Collopy (43) remained in garda custody last night after armed detectives raided a house in Limerick city and found him and his brother Kieran (40) sorting the drugs for sale. The heroin seized is worth €50,000.

Cocaine and cannabis worth a combined €6,000 were recovered in follow-up searches.

The Collopy brothers are leading gang members in Limerick and have been caught up in feuding.

Dad-of-four Brian Collopy was released from prison last December for witness intimidation of a former associate.

Traders

Over recent weeks, he and some of his relations - who have no involvement in crime - have been selling Christmas trees from outside his family home on the outskirts of the city.

Despite the drugs bust, the trees remained on sale yesterday. The Collopys were said to have done a roaring trade in recent weeks. The trees are priced at between €25 and €45, and the Collopys are among the biggest Christmas tree traders in the area.

The €50,000 worth of heroin was recovered from a house in St Mary's Park area of Limerick city.

Armed detectives, equipped with an emergency search warrant, entered the house at 6pm on Tuesday and caught the brothers red-handed following a nine-month investigation into the gang.

The Collopy mob's stronghold is the St Mary's Park area.

Just over five miles away from the drugs bust, the heavily fortified bungalow where the Christmas trees are for sale was previously the scene of a major murder investigation.

Brian Collopy's son Kenneth (24) is serving a life sentence for the 2009 gun murder of Daniel Fitzgerald.

The bungalow was sealed off for the week during the investigation as gardai searched for the murder weapon.

A handgun was found along a busy road nearby.

During the searches of the home, almost €15,950 in cash was found wrapped in a sock in a drawer and €3,600 was concealed in underwear. Brian Collopy's wife, Maria, unsuccessfully applied to Limerick District Court to have the cash returned to her.

Gardai objected to its return after drugs worth €250,000 were recovered in outhouses and lands surrounding the property.

They contended that the money seized was directly connected to the large quantity of drugs found close to the Collopy house.

Members of Brian Collopy's family have also operated ice cream vans, chip vans and stalls at GAA matches, festivals and other events across the country.

Two years ago, Brian Collopy had an eight-year sentence for witness intimidation reduced by two years by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Threatening

He had been jailed for making the shape of a gun at witness Willie Moran in 2010 but had pleaded not guilty.

In 2011, Kieran Collopy and his brother Damian (25), of St Ita's Street, St Mary's Park, Limerick, were jailed for five years for threatening to kill Mr Moran.

They believed he had money belonging to their late brother Philip, who shot himself in the head in 2009.

Brian Collopy was shot twice in old Francis Street in 2006.

Another home, Ashby House, in Fedamore, Co Limerick, was seized by the CAB as part of a €470,000 settlement.

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