‘Scourge’ on Sligo community given 11 years for directing criminal organisation – The Irish Times

A Sligo criminal who was a “scourge” on his community for years with his drugs operation has been jailed for 11 years at the Special Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that Barry Young (38) could have faced 16 years or more had he not pleaded guilty to the charge of directing a criminal organisation.

He noted that Young has said he wants to turn his life around, but said he had to punish Young as a deterrent to others and to mark the gravity of the social consequences of organised criminal activity.

Mr Justice Hunt said that Young’s gang is “smaller in scope, size and geography” than others that have come before the courts in recent years and that “the violence used did not reach the same level as those other organisations”. There are more serious gangs out there, the judge said, and Young’s one was answerable to more serious organisations.

But Mr Justice Hunt said he did not want to “understate the destructiveness” of Young’s activities on the people of Sligo. He described Young as a “scourge on the people of Sligo for a number of years” and he noted evidence that a relatively small community in the west of Ireland is “burdened by four such gangs”.

Mr Justice Hunt set the headline sentence at 16 years but due to mitigating factors, including Young’s early guilty plea, he reduced that to 12 years. He suspended the final 12 months for four years after his release on the condition that Young keep the peace and be of good behaviour for that period.

‘Different direction’

Mr Justice Hunt said the purpose of the suspension is to acknowledge that he is young enough to emerge back into the community and he wants to incentivize Young’s promises that he would “turn his life in a different direction”.

Young, a father-of-two, with a previous address at Geldof Drive, Cranmore, Co Sligo, pleaded guilty at the non-jury court to, between October 4th, 2019 and January 15th, 2022, directing the activities of a criminal organisation within and outside the State, contrary to Section 71 A of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006, as inserted by Section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act, 2009.

At a previous hearing the court heard that drug seizures linked to the gang totalled over €628,000, while Young himself had €40,000 in ready cash despite his only stated income being social welfare payments. Young also dispatched enforcers that he described as “head-the-balls” and “Dirty Harrys” to collect on drug debts, a sentencing hearing was told.

Following the sentence, Chief Supt Aidan Glacken told the media outside court that Young “has been involved in the sale and distribution of controlled drugs for the last 20 years.

“He directed and controlled a very large organised crime gang involved in an illegal business in the northwest of the country and this gang had substantial international links.

“In the pursuit of greed and in the pursuit of money, this organised crime gang has caused much harm, much stress, much destruction to society and families through their reckless nature.

“Many of those families have suffered from violence, threats and intimidation which is unacceptable in today’s society.

“Over the past number of years in Sligo, we have committed very substantial resources to tackle this crime gang and other gangs involved in the drugs business.

“We will continue in this work to dismantle these gangs, including seizing their assets, their cash, whether it be here or abroad.”

Attempt to escape

A previous hearing was told by Det Garda Insp Ray Mulderrig that Young was arrested by detectives from Sligo at Dublin Airport on January 11th last while on his way to Spain in an attempt to escape his life of crime and drug-debts.

Det Insp Mulderrig told Fiona Murphy SC, for the State, that gardaí seized Young’s phone and discovered thousands of messages, images, videos and calls relating to his activities in running the Sligo-based gang.

Det Insp Mulderrig said Young had 81 previous convictions at the time of his arrest and had been twice sentenced for drug-dealing, with the last conviction for that offence coming in 2006 when he was sentenced to six years.

Ms Murphy said the phone revealed a group of “at least” 20 members who operated in a “controlled, hierarchical command structure with directed sub-cells who then directed their own subordinates through a chain of command directed by Barry Young who was ultimately informed of the results”.

Ms Murphy said phone activity revealed messages about drug-seizures, drug-debt enforcement, intimidation, cash lodgements and movements, and the collection and distribution of drugs. The court heard the investigation revealed a high level of communication regarding drug-debt enforcement and the names and addresses of debtors.

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