Court

A CONVICTED killer who was at the centre of a political controversy more than a decade ago has been fined €200 for the possession of a cannabis plant at his property in June 2021.

At Kilrush District Court, Judge Mary Larkin convicted Christopher Cooney (59) of Derrylough, Killimer in West Clare after he pleaded guilty to the possession of a cannabis plant on June 28th 2021.

Mr Cooney’s guilty plea follows him in late 2021 appearing at Ennis Circuit Court where he received a two year suspended jail term after pleading guilty to the sale and supply of €8,900 worth of cannabis in March 2019 at the same address.

At Kilrush District Court, solicitor for Mr Cooney, Gearoid Williams said that the suspended sentence cannot be triggered by the new conviction as the date of the new case pre-dated the date of the suspended sentence.

Mr Cooney was jailed for life in 1992 for the murder of market gardener, Robert Lynch (22) from Bantry, Co Cork in the Banner Arms pub in Ennis in February 1991.

In January 2007, then Fianna Fail Minister for Labour Affairs and Clare TD, Tony Killeen (FF) apologised to the Lynch family after it emerged that his constituency office had sent two letters in 2003 to the then Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell seeking the early release of Mr Cooney.

Minister Killeen stated at the time that the letters were sent without his knowledge. The representations by the Clare TD’s office had no success as Mr Cooney continued to serve his life term in jail and Mr Cooney was released on licence in 2006.

When the new drugs case first came before court last November, Sgt Louis Moloney said that on June 28th 2021, a Garda search at Mr Cooney’s property came across a cannabis plant growing in a poly tunnel at the back of Mr Cooney’s home.

Sgt Moloney said that after caution, Mr Cooney made full admissions and that the plant was for his own personal use.

Asked how many grams of cannabis the plant would produce by Judge Larkin, Mr Cooney said that the plant would produce half an ounce.

Solicitor for Mr Cooney, Sinead Kenny said that Mr Cooney was released from prison on licence on compassionate grounds from his life sentence to care for both of his elderly parents and he also cares for his brother.

Ms Kenny said that Mr Cooney’s mother died in 2015. She said, “The reason he had the plant was he had an issue with his knee, was in pain constantly and didn’t want to take opiates. He was growing the plant for pain relief – that was the only reason he had been using it”.

Judge Larkin convicted and fined Mr Cooney €200 after Sgt Moloney said that a conviction would not have any impact on Mr Cooney’s status where he is currently free on licence from his murder conviction.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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