30 months' prison for disgraced footballer in €200k drugs bust
A former Leeds United and Republic of Ireland youth team footballer has been jailed for 30 months after he was caught transporting almost €200,000 of cannabis.
Robert Bayly (30) was described by his barrister as "a child prodigy" who fell into gambling when he moved to Leeds United as a 14-year-old.
His gambling continued into adulthood and he ultimately agreed to transport the drugs to pay off a €6,500 debt, Dominic McGinn SC told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Bayly, of Cedarbrook Way, Ballyfermot, Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at Cherry Orchard Drive, also Ballyfermot, on May 12, 2017.
Bayly, who also played professional football in Ireland for Shamrock Rovers and Drogheda United, had no previous convictions, the court heard yesterday.
Garda Neil McGrath told Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, that gardai stopped the Nissan Almera Bayly was driving and noticed a "very strong smell of cannabis".
Bayly admitted there was "weed in the boot" before gardai discovered 10 small packages of cannabis. The drugs had an estimated street value of €194,284.
Bayly said in a garda interview that he agreed to transport the drugs so that a gambling debt of €6,500 would be reduced. He said he was in fear for his life and that of his daughter and girlfriend.
Gda McGrath told Mr McGinn that officers accepted that Bayly gave "a truthful account" of his role in the operation. He agreed that Bayly was extremely mannerly, co-operative and "the smallest cog in the wheel".
"I got the impression that he didn't fully understand what was happening," Gda McGrath said.
He accepted that Bayly told gardai in interview that he was glad he was caught because it meant that "a huge amount of drugs wouldn't make it onto the street".
Mr McGinn told Judge Martin Nolan that Bayly had a "huge amount of contact" with the older players in the three years he spent in Leeds, which was where he was introduced to gambling.
He said his client played for Shamrock Rovers and various other clubs here where his addiction got out of control.
"He was earning decent money as a footballer," Mr McGinn said, but said Bayly had no assets.
He said Bayly completed all but one week of a 12- week rehabilitative programme but left because he was offered a contract with Drogheda United.
Counsel said Bayly relapsed following the death of his grandmother and began to build up debt.
He said he was under threat and at one point showed up for a match having been badly assaulted the night before.
Mr McGinn said Bayly then became concerned for his daughter's welfare and "felt he had no option" but to agree to transport the drugs. Mr McGinn submitted to the court that his client fell into a "totally different category" to other people charged with the same offence.
Judge Nolan accepted that threats had been made against Bayly and that he felt forced to co-operate but he added that he was an adult when he committed the offence.
"He made a gross misjudgement. He should not have succumbed to pressures," Judge Nolan said before he jailed Bayly for two-and-half years.