THE operator of a controversial headshop in Dublin's Clontarf, who was forced to surrender the lease on the premises, also pleaded guilty last week to being in possession of 450 kegs of stolen alcohol worth €63,000, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

Jeffrey Carey, with addresses at Quarry Road in Cabra and Annamoe Drive in Cabra, had been the operator of the D3 Headshop which opened on Clontarf Road on St Patrick's Day, having previously operated as a florist.

He agreed to surrender the lease on the premises at the High Court on Friday. On Monday, the court granted a temporary injunction to the owners of the premises, Patrick and Alice Lynch against Carey, restraining him from carrying on any business there other than a florist/giftshop.

The owners were concerned the use of the premises had been changed to that of a headshop selling a range of "legal highs".

There were protests outside the premises last Saturday and the local community expressed concern over some of the substances sold at these stores despite their legality.

Last Wednesday, Carey also appeared at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. He pleaded guilty to being in possession of 180 kegs of Guinness, 180 kegs of Budweiser and 90 kegs of Carlsberg on 27 November 2007 stolen from a Diageo warehouse in Dublin.

The kegs were all recovered at a warehouse at Whitecross Farm, Julianstown Co Meath, the same day. His younger brother, Karl Carey (25), Jamestown Road, Hamptonwood in Finglas, has already been sentenced for his role in the handling of the stolen goods.

He also pleaded guilty and was given a two-year suspended sentence on 16 February for being in possession of the kegs of beer at his rented warehouse in Co Meath. He was fined €4,000.

Judge Frank O'Donnell gave him three months to pay the fine. Carey will be sentenced on 22 April for being in possession of the 450 kegs.

The owner of another Dublin headshop, who asked not to be named, said the majority of people involved in the sale of legal highs were not involved in criminality in any way.

He added that he hoped the revelation about Carey's involvement in a previous crime would not "tar all of us with the same brush".

Controversy has raged over the past few months over the range of legal highs widely available for purchase in headshops all over the country. The government has said that a number of psychoactive substances available at these stores will soon be added to the controlled list of substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

There have been four arson attacks at headshops since February by drug gangs who have lost income because many people are no longer purchasing illegal drugs but buying legal products instead.

The first attack targeted the Nirvana store on Dublin's Capel Street and two businesses beside it were destroyed after flames ripped through the premises on 12 February.