Limerick fitness instructor avoids jail sentence for drug dealing

Ennis courthouse
Ennis Courthouse

A QUALIFIED fitness instructor who previously escaped being jailed after paying out €40,000 in compensation to his victim for an ear bite has once more avoided prison – this time for drug dealing.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Daniel O’Connell (33) pleaded guilty to the possession of €33,150 worth of drugs with intent to supply at his home at Ballybrack, Clonlara, in south east Clare on July 17, 2020.

In 2015 at Limerick Circuit Court, Mr O’Connell avoided jail when he received a three-year suspended prison term for the assault causing serious harm to Donal Ryan during a nightclub assault at the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel in 2011.

During the assault, Mr O’Connell bit off a “substantial portion” of Mr Ryan’s ear and medics were unable to re-attach the part of the ear bitten off.

A native of Corbally in Limerick, Mr O’Connell received the three-year suspended prison term for 10 years after agreeing to pay the €40,000 in installments.

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Now, in relation to the drugs offence, Detective Garda Ciaran Lynch of Henry Street Garda Station told Ennis Circuit Court that the estimated street value of the drugs seized, mainly ketamine and MDMA, was €33,150.

Detective Garda Lynch said that the drugs were recovered from a laundry basket at Mr O’Connell’s home during a late-night search.

In sentencing, Judge Francis Comerford said that there was a confluence of exceptional circumstances in the case that allowed him impose a 22-month suspended prison term on Mr O’Connell, where he said it is better that the accused continue his rehabilitation.

During interview with Gardaí in July 2020, Mr O’Connell stated that his sold the drugs to his friends to fund a cocaine and cannabis addiction. He was not working at the time and was in receipt of social welfare..

In evidence, Detective Garda Lynch stated that Mr O’Connell has since got work “and has not been on our radar” since his arrest in July 2020.

Counsel for the accused, Mark Nicholas SC (instructed by solicitor Daragh Hassett), said that Mr O’Connell “has done his level best to deal with his addiction and has provided clear urines to his GP over a period of time”.

Mr Nicholas said that Mr O’Connell, who has worked as a personal trainer, had an addiction that was the driving force in his offending.

He told the court that said that Mr O’Connell is a changed man and now works full-time in Shannon.

“He has gone from someone who was sitting on the couch, depressed, taking drugs to being drug free and a participating member of society and turning his back on drugs,” Mr Nicholas said.