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06 Jul 2022

Ex-footballer can avoid prison by moving back to Republic of Ireland

A Derryman was caught with tens of thousands worth of counterfeit gear, including cigarettes and tobacco valued at almost €50,000, when Gardaí raided his home

Letterkenny court house.

Letterkenny court house.

A former professional footballer can avoid prison if he moves back to the Republic of Ireland.

Kevin Doherty, who was nabbed with a haul of fake goods, including almost €50,000 worth of tobacco and cigarettes, when Gardai raided his home in Donegal.

Doherty’s stash included tens of thousands of euro worth of fake items that also included fake soccer jerseys.

Doherty, 46, with an address at Fern Park, Derry, pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

Cops swooped on Doherty’s home at Aileach Valley, Elaghbeg, Burnfoot on June 11, 2019 and found the stash of goods in a shed located to the rear of the house.

Detective Garda Joe English outlined details of the raid in court.

Doherty was charged with having for sale or delivery 33,600 Excellence cigarettes, 12,200 Lambert & Butler Original Silver cigarettes, 400 Sterling Super King cigarettes and 2,000 Mayfair cigarettes, as well as other items including 10000mg Premium Blend, 105 40g packages of of Domingo tobacco, 16 50g pouches of Golden Virginia tobacco, 230 50g pouches of Flandria Golden tobacco, 100 50g packets of Flandria Golden tobacco.

A customs officer confirmed that the haul did not bear the appropriate Irish tax stamp.

The total value of the cigarettes was €37,833.30 and the tobacco was to the value of €12,186.78.

Doherty was found in possession in the course of a business items of clothing bearing the marks of brands such as Adidas, New Balance, Nike, North Face, Vans, Lacoste, Fred Perry, Ralph Lauren, Stone Island and Gym King.

The stash included 29 Manchester United jerseys, 19 Liverpool jerseys, 20 Celtic jerseys and 19 Barcelona jerseys as well as almost 250 pairs of Nike and Vans trainers and a quantity of 645 DVDs and CDs.

Doherty pleaded guilty to offences contrary to to the Finance Act, 2005 and the Trade Marks Act, 1996.

Initially, Doherty told Gardai that he was storing the products for someone else and that he did not have a key for the shed.

Doherty, who has severn previous convictions for similar offences in Northern Ireland, later admitted that he received cigarettes and tobacco in return for holding the merchandise. He was in debt to the owner, the court heard, due to a gambling problem.

Barrister for Doherty, Mr Gareth McGrory, said Doherty was a talented football and had signed with Premier League club Southampton when he was 16 and played football at a variety of other clubs in England before returning home, where he worked for several companies, including Seagate. Doherty now operates a shop, out of a small portacabin, in the Galliagh area of Derry.

Doherty, Mr McGrory said, had to remortgage his flat due to the excess of his gambling. Doherty is a father-of-two and Mr McGrory said the defendant was willing to obtain an address in Donegal in order that he be suitable for community service.

Judge John Aylmer said the offences merited 18 months imprisonment before considering mitigation. In considering Doherty’s circumstances, Judge Aylmer reduced the sentence to one of twelve months.

Judge Aylmer adjourned the case until October, saying that if Doherty obtained an address in the Republic of Ireland he would impose 240 hours of community service in lieu of 12 months in prison.

Judge Aylmer also ordered the destruction of the goods and the forfeiture of €555 in cash located in the raid.

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