Jailed for eight years for transporting €2.5M of cocaine


A Cootehill man caught transporting €2.5M worth of cocaine in his transit van has been jailed for eight years.

Former publican Charles Coyle (59) was caught with the drugs after gardaí, acting on confidential information, mounted a surveillance operation on a truck coming into the country from Latvia.

Coyle was observed to park near the truck at a Dublin service station and take three boxes from it, which he moved to his own van. Gardaí later intercepted his car and seized the drugs.

Coyle of Bough, Cootehill, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply in Lusk on April 24, 2020. He has 20 previous convictions, 10 for road traffic and the remainder are licensing law offences from a time when he operated a pub.

The truck driver, Dmitrijs Venskovics (45), was jailed for eight years last November.

Garda Michael Ormonde told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, that gardai searched Coyle's car found one kilogram of cocaine under the front passenger seat and a further 35kg of cocaine in a security compartment in the back of the van.

Coyle told gardaí he was buying and selling various items such as vegetables and hand sanitisers using his van. He said he was given directions to pick up these boxes and was getting instructions on where he should take them. He said he was to be paid €2,000 for transporting them.

John Peart SC, defending, said his client is remorseful for getting involved, has come to his senses and realises he should not have done this.

He said his client was a van salesman going around selling things and had a vulnerability about him. He said he was “completely out of his depth” in relation to these offences and, other than this, was of good character.

He submitted that the court could depart from the mandatory minimum of 10 years' imprisonment taking into account that he had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and made full admissions as to his own role.

The barrister said, as an older man, every year his client does in prison at this stage of his life is a significant one.

Judge Martin Nolan said Coyle's role was to transport the drugs at the direction of others and it was not the case that he owned them.

He said at Coyle's age he should have had more sense and it was a grievous error of judgement. He said he saw no reason to depart from the sentence imposed on the truck driver and imposed an eight-year sentence on Coyle.