'biggest regret' | 

Dublin man caught with €600k of cannabis tells court it was ‘start of worst nightmare’

This offence comes with a mandatory sentence of 10 years' imprisonment, which a judge can depart from in exceptional circumstances

Dennis Menton

Fiona Ferguson

A Dublin man who thought transporting drugs for payment was the answer to his financial problems has told a court it turned out to be the start of his worst nightmare.

Dennis Menton (34), a father of five, was already working several jobs to meet his financial obligations, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard, when he was caught with €600,000 of cannabis.

Menton, of Newcastle Manor Square, Rathcoole, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of the cannabis for sale or supply outside his home on December 16, 2022. He has no previous convictions.

Detective Garda Jerome Twomey told Judge Martin Nolan that Menton was caught after gardai acting on confidential information stopped him as he parked a rental car outside his home.

Menton directed gardai to a second car parked nearby which was found to contain two suitcases holding 30 kilogrammes of cannabis valued at €604,000.

Menton told gardai that he had transported drugs on five to six other occasions over the previous three months and was paid €2,000 per job.

In sentencing Menton on Friday, Judge Nolan noted he had fully cooperated with gardai in relation to his own role and made immediate admissions.

He noted in mitigation his very early guilty plea, good record of work and testimonials handed into court. He took into account Menton was a good family man and his imprisonment will impact his children. He thought it was unlikely Menton will reoffend.

He said Menton deserved a prison sentence but the question was how long.

This offence comes with a mandatory sentence of 10 years' imprisonment, which a judge can depart from in exceptional circumstances. Judge Nolan said he found that he could depart from the presumptive mandatory sentence in the circumstances of this case and he imposed a five and a half year sentence.

During the sentence hearing, Det Gda Twomey agreed with James Dwyer SC, defending, that Menton’s role was that of a courier without any proprietary interest in the drugs. He agreed there were no signs of wealth in Menton’s accommodation, which he shared with two other couples.

Menton told gardai he was asked to pick up the items, hold them and later drop them to someone else. He declined to name those who had given him the drugs.

Menton wrote a letter to the court in which he “sincerely apologised” for his poor choices and getting involved in this idiotic activity, describing it as his “biggest regret.”

He said he had been working two or three jobs at the time but bills had built up. He said these offences seemed like answer to his problems, when it was actually the start of his worst nightmare.

Mr Dwyer said his client had a recreational cocaine habit at the time. Menton is attending counselling and considering studying community addiction studies.

Counsel handed in several testimonials describing how Menton had helped those with mental health difficulties in his community, worked hard to support his family and has a “heart of gold.”

He submitted his client has made changes to his life, pleaded guilty at an early stage and made full admissions. He said he has expressed his remorse in a real way and gained insight to his actions.

Mr Dwyer said he was someone of otherwise good character who has contributed to his society and family.

He submitted that the court could have regard to the fact that the drugs involved were cannabis, which he said was a drug of less devastating effect than others, such cocaine or heroin.

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