Limerick ice-cream man gets ten years on drugs charge

Paul Collopy, who has been sentenced to ten years in prison.

A LIMERICK drug dealer, who used to make his living selling ice-cream from a van, has been sentenced to ten years in prison.

Judge Francis Comerford imposed the sentence on 47 year-old Paul Collopy with an address at Childers Road, Cloughleigh, Ennis who was caught with €50,780 of cannabis on the grounds of Carnelly House, near the village of Clarecastle on April 16, 2021.

Backdating the sentence to April 2021, Judge Comerford said that Mr Collopy was involved in drug dealing “at a significant level of expertise”.

He added that the fact Mr Collopy was serving three separate suspended sentences when he committed the offence was “a very grave aggravating factor” .

He had made himself a target of the local Garda drugs unit by returning to drug dealing within a year of being released from prison for a drug dealing offence.

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In 2016, Mr Collopy received a six year prison term with the final two years suspended after pleading guilty to the possession of €26,796 worth of heroin in a coffee jar with intent to supply.

At that court, he also pleaded guilty to having possession of a ‘tick-list’ or a list of drug users who owed him a total of €37,920.

From what was described as ‘a good family’ in Limerick, Mr Collopy used to have two ice-cream vans on the road before he returned to the drugs scene in the middle of the last decade.

During his latest court appearance, Det Garda Paul Heaslip described Mr Collopy as “one of the leading players” involved in the large sale and supply of drugs in the area.

He said Mr Collopy was a target of the Clare Divisional Drugs Unit and was involved in “a sophisticated and well resourced operation” and that he “actively recruits for the purpose of committing drug trafficking crimes”.

Counsel for Mr Collopy objected to the evidence that Mr Collopy “actively recruits” as it didn’t appear in the Book of Evidence and that the ‘opinion’ evidence could not be challenged.

Det Heaslip said that Gardai found a large freezer bag of cannabis under the root of a tree on the grounds of Carnelly House and waited  to see if anyone would come for the drugs.

Armed Gardaí took up observation points and, along with colleagues from the drugs unit, witnessed Mr Collopy come to retrieve the drugs on April 16, 2021.

A nutri-bullet blender, zip lock bags, large refuse bags, mobile phones and cling film were found during a search of his car.

He said: “All of those items taken together are part and parcel of a drug operation.”

Mr Collopy entered “a very, very late guilty plea” to the sale and supply of the cannabis and entered the plea before his trial for the offence was due to commence at Ennis Circuit Court earlier this month.

Det Heaslip said that Mr Collopy has 78 previous convictions including 43 road traffic offences.

A supporter of Mr Collopy shouted insults at Gardai before exiting court.