‘I’m f**ked now’: Jail for Limerick shopkeeper who used business as front for cocaine mixing factory

Declan Sheehy was jailed by Judge Tom O'Donnell before the court complex in Limerick City. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

A SHOPKEER turned drug dealer told Gardaí “I’m f**ked now” when they walked in on him in the kitchen of his small grocery shop in St Mary’s Park, preparing over €208,000 worth of cocaine in mixing bowls.

Surrounded by white powder, weighing scales, a blender, and mixing bowls, Declan Sheehy told Gardaí the cocaine was his.

The 58-year-old father for four also admitted he owned €58,000 cash found by Gardaí in a couch at the shop and at his home, €51,000 of which was deemed by the court to be the proceeds of crime.

Sheehy, of Janemount Park, Corbally, who was using his family’s fourth generation grocery shop as a cocaine mixing factory, was jailed for seven and half years with the final 18 months suspended.

“It’s a shocker that a small business in Limerick City, which was run by the accused’s family for four generations, wound up being a front for the distribution and sale and supply of cocaine,” said sentencing judge Tom O’Donnell.

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“This was in an area blighted by drugs and here is someone who might be considered an upstanding member of society who was openly running a nefarious business,” the judge said.

The judge said that Sheehy admitted owning the drugs “and that makes him the main (player) in this”.

“I have no doubt he knows the damage it (cocaine) causes, and he has contributed to it.”

Acting on a tip off, members of the Limerick Garda Divisional Drug Unit raided Sheehy’s shop at St Mary’s Park and found him alone in the kitchen mixing cocaine on November 21, 2022.

When Gardaí asked Sheehy who owned the drugs, he replied: “It’s mine, I’m f**ked now, it’s cocaine.”

Sheehy told Gardaí he inherited the shop in St Mary’s Park from his mother, who got it from her mother. He had been running it for the past 20 years.

He told Gardaí the shop was paying him an annual salary of around €30,000.

Garda Adrian Cahill, of the Garda Drug Unit, told the court: “I believe he (Sheehy) was running his own wholesale distribution business from his back kitchen and benefitting from it.”

He said Sheehy showed signs of wealth and that there was no mortgage on his home or his shop, and he was the outright owner of both properties.

The court heard Sheehy had a number of previous convictions, including his last one in June 2004, after he pleaded guilty to one count of violent disorder and received three years in jail for his involvement in a “pitched battle” between feuding rivals outside a fast food restaurant.

During the melee, a variety of weapons – including a golf club, a steering lock, and a snooker cue – were used outside the former Supermacs outlet on Limerick’s Ennis Road.

Sheehy also had convictions for public order matters, as well as for a historic conviction in 1985, when he was 18, for aggravated burglary, for which he was jailed for seven years.

Represented by senior counsel Michael Bowman and junior counsel Pat Barriscale, Sheehy was co-operative with Gardaí and facilitated them in searching his shop and his home, and admitted to all offences, it was heard.

Sheehy pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of cocaine for sale or supply, two counts of possessing cash suspected of being the proceeds of crime, and to possessing articles said to be drug paraphernalia.

As well as receiving six years in jail on one of the cocaine charges, Sheehy was given two concurrent five-year terms, in respect of one of the proceeds of crime charges and the drug paraphernalia charge. The other charges were taken into consideration.

When Sheehy was initially charged in court in November 2022, Gardaí gave evidence that he was then “heavily involved in the sale and supply of drugs in Limerick”.