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Dad caught with €60k of drugs wanted to pay for Disneyland dream

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McGurk wanted to take kids to see Mickey Mouse

McGurk wanted to take kids to see Mickey Mouse

McGurk wanted to take kids to see Mickey Mouse

A father-of-five smuggled nearly €60,000 worth of drugs because he wanted to take his children to Disneyland, a court has heard.

Anthony McGurk (29) had a panic attack in Dublin Airport last November after his suitcase was X-rayed by customs officials.

A large bag of MDMA crystal powder was found wrapped in his clothes, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard yesterday.

He had just got off a flight from Amsterdam.

McGurk, a Belfast man of no fixed abode, initially denied owning the drugs and said they must have been planted in his bag.

When arrested by gardai, he confessed to buying the drugs in Amsterdam with a view to selling them in Belfast.

He pleaded guilty to one count of possessing drugs for sale or supply at Dublin Airport last November 25.

He had no previous convictions.

Jailing him for two-and-a-half years, Judge Martin Nolan said McGurk had engaged in a "singularly misjudged scheme" in the hope of making some money.

He noted that McGurk had no ties to the criminal world in Ireland or the North and had worked for several years as a chef.

Judge Nolan accepted he was struggling with mental health difficulties at the time.

Garda Michael Byrne told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that after being treated for a panic attack at Dublin Airport, McGurk was taken to Ballymun Garda Station where he admitted owning the drugs.

He said he had been struggling with mental health and job difficulties in the past couple of years and had an acrimonious relationship with his ex-partner.

Desperate

His friends clubbed together to take him to festivals in Prague and then Amsterdam, where he bought the drugs.

"He said he was desperate to make money to bring his kids to Disneyland and for Christmas," Mr Le Vert said.

McGurk went on to tell gardai: "I've made the biggest mistake of my life."

The drugs had a street value of €58,926, the court heard.

Gda Byrne said he and his colleagues were concerned for McGurk's mental health during his time at the station and "kept a close eye on him".

He had been in custody since his arrest and is working in the prison kitchen.

Michael Bowman SC, defending, said his client was the father of five young children - two aged four and six from his first relationship, and one-year-old twins and a seven-month-old baby with his current partner.

He said McGurk was a chef before working in child support and in a call centre, but had stopped working due to mental health issues.

He and his current partner were given homeless accommodation in Belfast, but the family has now lost this due to McGurk's arrest, Mr Bowman told the court.

McGurk had an acrimonious relationship with his ex-partner and felt inadequate in terms of providing for his five children when he carried out the offence, the court heard.

"He has rendered himself and his family homeless," Mr Bowman said.

"He has destroyed everything he wanted to hold dear as a result of his catastrophic actions."