An attempt by two men to hide a stash of almost €20,000 worth of cannabis under some sausages in their car proved unsuccessful when a garda smelled the drugs after he stopped the car for speeding, a court has heard.
Sgt John McNamara became suspicious when he got a strong smell of cannabis after pulling over Aleksandrs Landzars (27) and his Jurijs Savcuks (38) for speeding on the M8 near Mitchelstown on January 30th.
Sgt McNamara called for assistance and, when gardaí searched the boot of the car, they found a bag of shopping and hidden beneath a packet of sausages were two packets of cannabis weighing 962 grammes and worth €19,240.
Details of how the drugs were found were given by Det Sgt James O'Shea at Cork Circuit Criminal Court where both accused pleaded guilty to possessing the drugs for sale or supply at Kilshanny, Mitchelstown on the day in question.
Det Sgt O’Shea told how the two men had travelled from Dublin to Cork and were returning to Dublin when they were stopped by gardaí who also found €1,000 in cash, three mobile phones and a walkie talkie in the boot of the car.
The car was owned and registered to Landzars, who was living with his parents at Patrickstown, Ballinlough, Kells Co Meath, and he told gardaí at interview that he had been promised €200 to drive to Cork with the drugs in his car.
Det Sgt O'Shea said that Savcuks, who has been in Ireland for 16 years and was living at Chapelton, Hollystown in Dublin 15 at the time, had the greater involvement as he was in charge of the operation.
Landzars's barrister, Mahon Corkery BL put it to Det Sgt O'Shea that his client, had a good work record since coming to Ireland in 2012 and Det Sgt O'Shea agreed, saying he had only three previous convictions for road traffic matters.
Mr Corkery pleaded for leniency, pointing out that his client had strong family support and his parents were shocked to learn of his involvement in drugs but he stressed that his client's role was minimal in that he was simply the driver.
Savcuks' barrister, Ronan Barnes BL said that his client got involved in bringing the drugs to Cork to pay off a non-drugs debt after he had borrowed money to set up his own business and was under pressure to repay the money.
Savcuks wished to apologise to the court for his offending, said Mr Barnes as he pleaded for leniency, pointing out that his client had co-operated with gardaí and had entered an early guilty plea to the offence.
Judge Sean O Donnabhain said he believed the fact both men had co-operated and entered early pleas gave him the discretion not to impose the indicative mandatory 10 year terms on people caught with over 13,000 worth of drugs.
He said initially it looked as if Landzars was the more culpable as he owned the car and gardaí also found various paraphernalia associated with drug dealing such as mobile phones, a walkie-talkie and € 1,000 in cash in the vehicle.
However, he was satisfied from Det Sgt O’Shea’s evidence that Landzars had the more minor role in the crime but he noted that neither accused had any drug addictions and the offence was committed for monetary gain.
But he believed he should differentiate between them due to their differing levels of criminality and he sentenced Lanszars to five years in jail with two years suspended and Savcuks to six years in jail with one year suspended.