Former Foreign Legionnaire jailed for holding drugs

by Gazette Reporter
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A former member of the French Foreign Legion who was caught in possession of just under €80,000 of cannabis has been jailed for three-and-a-half years. 

Derek Hackett (55) was observed handing over a bag containing the drugs to another man after being followed to a location by gardaí conducting a surveillance operation. 

Hackett of Owendoher Grove, Rathfarnham, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis for sale or supply at Drumfinn rd., Ballyfermot, on August 1, 2020. He has previous convictions for road traffic offences. 

Passing sentence last week, Judge Melanie Greally said the detection arose from a surveillance operation targetting a different individual that led to Hackett being observed handing over a black refuse bag containing the cannabis.

Judge Greally said the accused attributes his offending to a drug debt stemming from his escalating use of cocaine, which he attributes to the trauma from his experience in war-torn parts of the world.

She said engaging in acts which assist the distribution of drugs is something that has to be regarded very seriously and must require serious consequences for those involved. 

Judge Greally sentenced Hackett to four-and-a-half years imprisonment, but suspended the final 12 months of the sentence on strict conditions. 

During the sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Julia McCormack told Tom Neville BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, a surveillance operation was put in place in the Ballyfermot area targetting another man who drove a particular car. 

Det Gda McCormack said when gardaí observed this car driving in the area, they also observed a white BMW driven by Hackett following along behind it.

Gardai followed the cars until the both stopped at Drumfinn Road, where Hackett was observed removing a black bin bag from the boot of his car and handing it over to the other man. 

Both men were arrested by gardaí and the bag was found to contain a quantity of cannabis. The total value of the drugs was €79,204. 

Det Gda McCormack agreed with Keith Spencer BL, defending, that his client was not the target of the operation. She agreed Hackett had not been on the garda radar at all prior to this point. 

The detective agreed with counsel that his client was for ten years part of the French Foreign Legion and also worked in private security. She agreed the accused has always worked, either in Ireland or abroad. 

Mr Spencer said his client has experienced symptoms of PTSD arising from what he witnessed in other countries during his service. 

Counsel said his client began to use cocaine to combat the symptoms and committed the crime due to pressure regarding a drug debt. 

He said his client has been assessed as being at a low-risk of reoffending by the Probation Service. He said his client has been a good father to his children over the years, is in a happy relationship and imprisonment will mean his losing daily contact with his family.

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