A father-of-two has been jailed for four and a half years for laundering tens of thousands in drugs money for a criminal gang.

David Dowling (49) was caught handling a total of €169,000 of what gardai told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was “drugs money”.

Dowling of Sorrell Heath, Clonsilla, Dublin pleaded guilty last July to two charges of engaging in the business of handling the proceeds of crime at Westend Retail Business Park, Blanchardstown and at Sorrell Heath on September 26, 2015.

Today, Judge Martin Nolan said that Dowling was an “essential cog in a drug dealing enterprise”. He said Dowling received cash from other parties and vacuum packed it so that it could be moved onwards and out of the country.

Judge Nolan said that there were parties at “the top of the pyramid” in drug dealing operations “who do it to make a lot of money”.

“David Dowling was helping these parties. There is no point in having money if you can't move it where you want to move it,” he said.

Dowling has 17 previous convictions, dating from the '80s and '90s. Judge Nolan said these were old convictions and he was not taking them into consideration for his sentence.

Detective Garda Paul Kane told the court that in September 2015, gardai set up a surveillance operation after receiving confidential information about the laundering of substantial sums of money by a criminal organisation.

They stopped Dowling in a van after he was seen picking up a package from a car during a meeting in a car park in Westend retail park. The package contained €69,610 in cash.

During a follow up search of Dowling's family home in Clonsilla, gardai seized a further €99,020 and a vacuum packing machine. Some of the cash was found wrapped up in a towel in a sports bag.

Judge Nolan said that references handed into the court described Dowling as a “good family man and a good community man”.

“Unfortunately he involved himself in a very serious scheme, handling profits from drug dealing,” the judge said.