*It is four years since the incident occurred. 

A QUALIFIED fitness instructor who previously escaped jail after paying out €40,000 compensation to his victim for an ear-bite has once more avoided prison, this time for drug dealing.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Daniel O’Connell (33) pleaded guilty to the possession of €33,150 worth of drugs with intent to supply at his home at Ballybrack, Clonlara in south east Clare on July 17th 2020.

In 2015 at Limerick Circuit Court, Mr O’Connell avoided jail when he received a three year suspended prison term for the assault causing serious harm to Donal Ryan during a night-club assault at the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel in 2011.

During the assault, Mr O’Connell bit off a “substantial portion” of Mr Ryan’s ear and medics were unable to re-attach the part of the ear bitten off.

A native of Corbally in Limerick, Mr O’Connell received the three year suspended prison term for 10 years after agreeing to pay the €40,000 in instalments.

Now, in relation to the drugs offence, Det Garda Ciaran Lynch of Henry Street Garda Station, Limerick told Ennis Circuit Court that the estimated street value of the drugs seized, mainly ketamine and MDMA, was €33,150.

Det Garda Lynch said that the Ketamine and MDMA were recovered from a laundry basket at the home during the late night search of the property.

In sentencing, Judge Francis Comerford said that there was a confluence of exceptional circumstances in the case that allowed him impose a 22 month suspended prison term on Mr O’Connell where he said it is better that the accused continue his rehabilitation and the road to being a productive member of society.

Judge Comerford said that it is the second time that Mr O’Connell “has come before the circuit court facing very serious charges”.

During interview with Gardai in July 2020, Mr O’Connell stated that his sold the drugs to his friends and was not making a profit and he did it to fund a cocaine and cannabis addiction.

Mr O’Connell was not working at the time and was in receipt of €203 per week in social welfare.

Counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL (instructed by State Solicitor, Aisling Casey) said that Mr O’Connell told Gardai that he was budgeting away on social welfare.

At the time, Mr O’Connell was driving a 07 registered Ford Focus “and had no indications of a lavish lifestyle”.

In evidence, Det Garda Lynch stated that Mr O’Connell has since got work “and has not been on our radar” since his arrest in July 2020.

Det Garda Lynch stated that Mr O’Connell co-operated with Gardai and made full admissions.

Counsel for the accused, Mark Nicholas SC (instructed by solicitor, Daragh Hassett) said that Mr O’Connell “has done his level best to deal with his addiction and has provided clear urines to his GP over a period of time”.

Mr Nicholas said that Mr O’Connell’s addiction was the driving force in his offending.

Mr Nicholas said that Mr O’Connell has worked as a personal trainer. Mr O’Connell trained to be a fitness instructor at LIT.

Mr Nicholas said that Mr O’Connell is a changed man and now works full-time in Shannon and his employers have further extended his employment to December of this year.

Mr Nicholas said: “He has gone from someone who was sitting on the couch, depressed, taking drugs to being drug free and a participating member of society and turning his back on drugs. It is a positive story. It is four years since this has happened”.

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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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