A FATHER and son who admitted storing a large amount of illicit cigarettes and tobacco have been warned they will go to prison if they reoffend.
Thomas Keane, aged 24, of Delmege Park, Moyross pleaded guilty to possession of more than 87,000 illicit cigarettes and 15kgs of fine cut tobacco on which excise duty had not been paid.
His father – Christopher Keane, aged 48, also of Delmege Park – admitted having a total of 10,872 cigarettes and 1.08kgs of fine cut tobacco at his home.
During a sentencing hearing, customs officer Christopher Mulqueen said the contraband was seized during two search operations on January 13, 2012.
He said the defendants’ home was searched along with a commercial premises which was operated by Christopher Keane at Verdant Place, King’s Island.
Limerick Circuit Court was told the cigarettes and tobacco were concealed throughout the commercial premises and at various locations in the house including in the hot press and behind the fridge.
Mr Mulqueen said several boxes of cigarettes were found stacked in the sitting room along with a “old-style sweet jar” which contained small amounts of cash.
He told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that he believed a “selling operation” was being operated from the defendants’ home.
Judge Tom O’Donnell was told a number of days later Thomas Keane met with customs officials with his solicitor and took responsibility for the contraband seized.
He claimed he had collected the consignment off another man and was storing it for him to repay a debt.
The total street value of the contraband seized was almost €40,000, representing a potential loss to the State of around €25,000.
Pay Whyms BL, representing Thomas Keane, said his client had made admissions and had been threatened by the owner of the contraband.
Pat Barriscale BL, representing Christopher Keane, said the offence was a “one-off situation” and that there was no evidence his client had “gained materially” from what happened.
Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell said the circumstances of the seizure at the house had “all the hallmarks, appearances and vestiges of an illegal sales operation”.
However, taking into account the defendants’ admissions, guilty pleas and personal circumstances, he imposed 12-month prison sentences, suspending them for two years.