Thursday June 24 1999
STATE witness Charles Bowden told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that Brian Meehan, who is accused of murdering journalist Veronica Guerin, was a leading member of a drugs gang that imported huge quantities of cannabis into the country over a two-year period. STATE witness Charles Bowden told the Special Criminal Court yesterday that Brian Meehan, who is accused of murdering journalist Veronica Guerin, was a leading member of a drugs gang that imported huge quantities of cannabis into the country over a two-year period.
Bowden, who is serving a six years sentence for drugs and firearms offences, said that Meehan had given him money to rent a lock-up premises at Harold's Cross in Dublin from where the gang distributed up to 500 kilos of cannabis a week.
He also said that Meehan brought him to a Jewish cemetery at Oldcourt Road in Tallaght and showed him two graves used by the gang to store guns and ammunition which had been smuggled in with the drugs.
The court heard that Bowden (34), who is in the Witness Protection Programme, has been granted ``unconditional and irrevocable'' immunity from prosecution for the murder of Ms Guerin by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
It was the eleventh day of the trial of Brian Meehan (34), of no fixed abode, and formerly of Clifton Court, Dublin and Stanaway Road, Crumlin, Dublin who has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Guerin, (36) at Naas Road, Clondalkin, Dublin on June 26th, 1996.
Meehan also denies 16 other charges alleging importation of cannabis and possession of arms and ammunition.
Bowden, a native of Finglas, Dublin and a separated father of three, told the court that in 1991 and 1992 he was working as a bouncer in a north Dublin pub when he met a man identified as Mr D and he began holding ecstasy tablets for him.
Thereafter he became involved in the gang's drug activities and said that the profits were split up between himself, Brian Meehan, Mr D, another man Mr C and Paul Ward and he was making between £3,000 and £6,000 a week.
He said that between 300 and 500 kilos of cannabis were distributed from Harold's Cross premises and the consignment would be distributed within two days.
He said that on eight or 10 occasions, weapons and ammunition, including submachine guns, five semi-automatic pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition came in with the drugs.
He said that Meehan brought him up to the cemetery in Tallaght and showed two graves where the guns and ammunition were stored in plastic bags and boxes.
Earlier John Dunne (43), who is serving a three year sentence for importing cannabis and who is in the Witness Protection Programme, told the court that he thought the gang's consignments he brought into Cork from Holland for alleged drugs gang leader, Mr A, initially were tobacco.
He also said the rates he was being paid by the gang for arranging the shipments were ``very, very high''.
The trial continues today.
- DIARMAID MacDERMOTT