Rattigan directed drug deals from cell
In what is believed to be the first successful prosecution of its kind, a man has been convicted in connection with directing the supply of drugs while in prison.
The Special Criminal Court has found Dublin criminal Brian Rattigan guilty of the possession and supply of €1 million worth of heroin.
The court was told that the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, made an order that Rattigan should be tried at the non-jury court following an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Offences Against the State Act.
The court yesterday agreed with the prosecution case that Rattigan (32) was the director of a drugs gang conducting a €1 million heroin deal.
Rattigan, Cooley Road, Drimnagh, had pleaded not guilty to the possession of heroin and two counts of possession of the drug for sale or supply on Hughes Road South, Walkinstown, Dublin, on May 21st, 2008.
The court cleared him of two counts relating to the possession of two mobile phones at cell 42, E1 landing, Portlaoise Prison, while a prisoner there, on May 22nd, 2008, which he had also denied.
Returning a written judgment, presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court was satisfied that a “tick list” was sent by Rattigan to a Nokia mobile phone found with the heroin at the house on Hughes Road South and this, in conjunction with notes found in his cell, amounted to directions as to the distribution of the drugs.
Mr Justice Butler said that no other reasonable inference could be drawn from evidence before the court.
The court heard that gardaí who raided the house discovered 5kg of heroin valued at over €1 million and a Nokia phone in a shed at the back of the property, while a search of a bedroom yielded just over €36,000 in cash.
Drugs expert Det Garda Sgt Brian Robertson gave evidence that a text message printed out from an analysis of the Nokia phone, which spoke of “half bars”, “boxes” and “9” being allocated to names such as “Gangko” “McGyver” “Peck” and “Crazy”, referred to the division of drugs by weight.
The court heard that the sender of the text message was a phone number belonging to a Sim card that was thrown out of Rattigan’s cell when it was raided.
Members of the Garda Organised Crime Unit, who raided Rattigan’s cell, told the court that they found Rattigan lying on his bed with a mobile phone in his hand and that he threw this phone out of his cell when confronted by gardaí.
CCTV footage of an object being thrown onto the prison landing was viewed by the court, while gardaí gave evidence that two Sim cards were attached and that they had found a Samsung mobile phone, another Sim card and notebooks inside Rattigan’s cell.
Garda Sgt Tony Flanagan said he examined one of the two notebooks seized by detectives and that it also contained a long list of names and numbers, including names such as “McGyver”, followed by the word “half”, “Gangko”, succeeded by the number “9” and “Crazy”, also followed by “9”.
Mr Justice Butler said the court was “fully satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt” that Rattigan threw a mobile phone out of his cell upon the arrival of gardaí to search it, and that he was in possession of that device and others found in his cell.
He said the court found that the legislation on the possession of mobile phones in prison was drafted without any presumption that a person was without permission, and that there was an onus on the prosecution to prove the matter.
Deficit of proof
Brendan Grehan SC, defending, said there was a “deficit of proof” with regard to the two counts of mobile phone possession, as the prosecution failed to call two assistant governors who had the authority to grant permission for a phone to be used, thus the offence had not been made out to the requisite standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mr Justice Butler said the court was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt in respect of the evidence adduced in relation to the mobile phone counts and would find Rattigan not guilty. He said the court would list the matter for sentencing on March 20th.