Man jailed over €440,000 worth of cannabis found hidden in radiators

Noel Motherway tells judge he had ‘no equity’ in haul and was trying to pay off a drug debt

A man caught with almost €450,000 worth of drugs after they were smuggled from Spain in a consignment of heaters, has been jailed for six years.

Noel Motherway (51) pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to possessing cannabis herb for sale or supply and possessing cannabis resin for sale or supply at his home at Ballyrahoon, Rathcooney, Co Cork on March 15th, 2017.

Det Sgt Seán Leahy told the court that Customs Officers and members of the Garda National Drugs Unit had mounted a joint operation and were monitoring a shipment of heaters that had come in from Spain to Dublin Port on March 13th, 2017.

Gardaí searched the consignment and found four of the heaters contained 17.93kg of cannabis herb with a street value of €358,000 and 13.8kg of cannabis resin with a street value of €83,000.


The consignment of heaters were collected the next day and brought to a warehousing complex in Watergrasshill. Motherway collected them in a van the next day and brought them to his house.

Defence counsel Tom Creed SC said he believed there were a number of factors specific to the case which would enable Judge Gerard O'Brien to depart from the minimum mandatory 10 year term set out in legislation for all seizures of more than €13,000.


Mr Creed said his client had no previous convictions and only got involved in acting as a drugs courier after he ran up a drug debt after becoming addicted to prescription medicines and cocaine following a serious car accident.

He said Motherway was simply a courier and did not have “any equity” in the drugs haul, which together with an early guilty plea were factors which would allow a departure from the minimum mandatory term. Mr Creed said the accused was also deeply remorseful for his actions, which had brought shame upon his family.

Judge O’Brien said he accepted that Motherway had pleaded guilty early and spared the State the cost of an expensive trial. He had also offered a level of co-operation to gardaí and had no previous convictions. A probation report found he was unlikely to re-offend.

However, he said that courts are constantly saying that drug trafficking is not a victimless crime and the victim is society with the streets littered with people whose lives have been destroyed. He said he had to be cognisant of that fact and that the quantity off drugs involved was worth almost €500,000.

Judge O’Brien also said this was a premeditated and carefully planned crime and that the trafficking of drugs involved a subculture of violence and criminality which had disastrous consequences for society.

He said he did not believe the case met the criteria for not applying the mandatory minimum 10 year term but he gave Motherway a two year discount for his early plea and suspended the final two years of the term.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times