Four years for possessing heroin worth almost €70,000

Accused has been heroin addict for a decade and had more than 30 previous convictions

When gardaí searched the accused they found four plastic bags of heroin. File photograph: Getty

When gardaí searched the accused they found four plastic bags of heroin. File photograph: Getty

 

A 33-year-old man carrying almost €70,000 worth of heroin from Dublin to Cork was so intoxicated by the drugs he had taken that he made the mistake of telling gardaí he was coming back from a night out in Temple Bar, at the height of lockdown.

Gary Coleman with an address at Cove Street, Cork, was arrested by gardaí when they stopped a taxi travelling towards Cork on the N8 motorway on March 20th, 2020, and found that he had drugs hidden on his person.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday, Coleman pleaded guilty to possessing almost €70,000 worth of heroin for sale or supply at Gortore, Kilworth on the day in question, contrary to section 15 (A) of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Garda Aidan Riordan of Mitchelstown Garda station told how he was on mobile patrol with Sgt Trevor McSweeney when they spotted a taxi travelling at speed towards Cork on the day in question, so they stopped the vehicle.

“Gary Coleman was a front seat passenger returning from Dublin to Cork. He said he was socialising in Temple Bar. With the lockdown in place we found that unbelievable,” said Garda Riordan.

They also noticed that Coleman was intoxicated and were suspicious of drug activity. So they searched him and found four plastic bags of heroin with a value of €69,832 hidden on his person.

They were satisfied the taxi driver had nothing to do with the drugs. But they arrested Coleman who was co-operative about his involvement, although he did not know the others involved or was afraid to give any information, he said.

Garda Riordan said Coleman told interviewing gardaí he had collected four envelopes of cash in Cork and gone to Ballyfermot in Dublin to meet a person at a contact point where he was given bags of heroin.

Coleman said this was just his second such trip to Dublin and that he had made a similar trip previously by train and that he was due to get a reduction of between €1,700 and €2,500 on a drugs-related debt he owed for bringing the drugs to Cork.

He told gardaí that he did not know to whom he was to deliver the drugs but was due to ring a number on arrival in Leeside and would be given instructions on what to do with the drugs, said Garda Riordan.

Heroin addict

Coleman had been a heroin addict for 10 years and had a total of 31 previous convictions including one for drug dealing and four for drug possession as well as others for theft, begging and possession of forged prescriptions.

Defence counsel Siobhán Lankford SC pleaded for leniency. She said her client was making progress, moving from homelessness to an apartment at Cove Street in Cork and beginning to deal with his addiction issues.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said it was telling that unidentified drug dealers were depending on somebody as “misfortunate” as Coleman to deliver their drugs from Dublin to Cork in return for cutting his drugs debts to them.

He said drug dealers deserved to have their drugs seized when they were using someone who was so intoxicated with drugs that he came up with the excuse he was socialising in Temple Bar when the pubs were closed.

Nothwithstanding the progress Coleman had made, he was involved in transporting heroin to Cork to be dealt on the streets, the judge said, and he sentenced him to four years in jail with the final two years suspended.