Kinnegad man avoids jail after pleading guilty to possession of €350k of drugs

A man who fled to the UK in 2009 after being caught with €350,000 worth of various drugs avoided a jail term in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, May 22.

James Packenham (32 ), with an address at Cluain Craoibh, Kinnegad, was then apprehended four years after his escape when he returned to Dublin on the death of his mother in May 2013.

Gardaí arrested him on the day she was buried after becoming aware he might return for the funeral.

Detective Garda Gavin Cooke told the court Packenham had been told by others in the drug trade to rent an apartment at Westend Gate, Tallaght, to store the drugs.

On September 6, 2007 Gardaí got a search warrant for the apartment and arrived when Packenham was not there.

When Packenham returned he put the key in the door but didn’t hear the alarm go off. This made him suspicious and he fled before entering the apartment.

Packenham pleaded guilty to possession of €189,000 worth of cocaine, €158,000 of ecstasy tablets, and €2,800 of cannabis.

Judge Patricia Ryan accepted that he was holding the drugs, with included 15,000 ecstasy tablets, for others who then forced him to leave the country.

Prosecuting counsel Derek Cooney BL said he was ordered by the drugs’ owners to go the UK and stay there.

When he later phoned these people to ask if he could return home they said ‘No’, and burnt a car out in front of his mother’s house “to send him a message”.

Packenham later returned to Ireland but hid out in the Midlands until he heard of the death of his mother in May 2013.

He returned to Dublin and was arrested by gardaí on the day of her funeral.

Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC submitted that Packenham entered an early guilty plea once he was caught and was very co-operative with gardaí.

Judge Ryan imposed a four year sentence, but suspended it in full on condition that he carries out 240 hours community service.

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