Man faked his death in bid to evade justice over €6m of cartel cannabis
Evidence of the first garda drugs bust linked to the Kinahan cartel was outlined in a court case this week, in which a man who faked his own suicide was jailed.
Former equestrian centre manager Raymond Molloy (55) was given a six-and-a-half year sentence for the possession of more than €6m of cannabis resin.
Molloy spent 11 years on the run, living and working on the Isle of White, before being extradited back to Ireland and pleading guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply in Dublin on August 16, 2002.
It can be now disclosed that Molloy had faked his own suicide before going on the run and even left his clothes at Blessington Lake in south Dublin in a bid to trick gardai into thinking he was dead.
However, he was finally located in the UK last year and has been in custody ever since.
Senior sources told the Herald last night that the massive hash seizure almost 15 years ago was the first time that Christy Kinahan Snr came on to the garda radar as being the trafficker who had taken over the business of notorious thug John Gilligan.
Christy (now 60) had only been released from jail less than two years before the 2002 bust and had set up operations in Spain. It was suspected that he was using Weston Airport to smuggle cannabis into the country at that time.
"This bust brought the activities of Christy Kinahan and his gang on the radar in a serious way and ultimately led to other investigations, which culminated in an international investigation into his mob six years later," a senior source said last night.
Another man involved in the operation, David Dempsey (47), of Belcamp Lane, Coolock, was also charged with drug offences relating to the seizure of the cannabis resin in Coolock, firearms offences and in relation to the discovery of additional cannabis resin at his home.
Dempsey was convicted and sentenced to eight years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 2003.
This week, the court heard that gardai stopped a van, driven by Molloy, in Coolock as part of an ongoing surveillance operation and recovered 498kg of cannabis resin, with a street value at the time of €6.34m.
The court heard that Molloy, of Hollywood, Co Wicklow, who has no previous convictions, had been approached by a number of individuals, one of whom was a family member, who proposed establishing the Slade Valley Equestrian Centre.
These people, in the view of gardai, "targeted" him because of his in-depth knowledge of horses.
It can be revealed that one of those people was a close associate of Kinahan, who later became embroiled in a horse race-fixing scandal in the UK.
He was arrested as part of the 2002 bust was never charged.
Molloy was due to stand trial in 2004 but failed to appear and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
In April 2015, gardai received information that he was living on the Isle of White.
The court heard that Molloy was taken advantage of and that threats and duress were exerted on him.
"He was told that his horses' throats would be slit if he did not do as he was told," his lawyer said.