Man who ferried heroin to pay debt jailed for 10 years


A DRUGS courier who was shot in the leg while on bail after gardai caught him with £500,000 worth of heroin has been jailed for 10 years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Alan Costelloe threw his pedal cycle at Drugs Squad members in an attempt to escape. The heroin was in a plastic bag hanging on the handlebars.

Costelloe acted as courier for a major north city drugs dealer to pay off a debt.

Det Sgt Noirin O'Sullivan said Costelloe had grounds to fear naming the major dealer who hired him. While on bail, he was shot in the leg but again refused through fear to make an official complaint to gardai.

Costelloe, married and a father of two, of Cromcastle Road, Dublin 5, pleaded guilty to having the heroin for supply on November 15th, 1994.

Judge Michael Moriarty said that while Costelloe's involvement was recent and peripheral, the court could not be over lenient despite sympathetic Garda evidence.

Heroin was still the single greatest scourge in Dublin.

This was a very substantial quantity of 76 per cent pure heroin and people on the very lowest level of the distribution chain such as the defendant enabled vicious criminals at the top make lucrative profits out of others misery. Leniency for couriers from the courts would make the Garda task harder.

Judge Moriarty said he accepted Costelloe's concerns were not groundless and he asked the authorities to exercise vigilance for his security.

While he was diffident about suspending portions of sentences, he felt this was an exceptional case considering the defendant's background.

He suspended the final three and a half years of the 10 year sentence on Costelloe's bond not, to return to drug related crime.

Det Sgt O'Sullivan told prosecuting counsel, Mr George Birmingham, that the Drugs Squad had been concerned around October and November 1994 about drugs activity in the Jamestown Road area of Finglas.

Costelloe was caught in the surveillance operation set up as a result.

She told Judge Moriarty the Squad had precise information in advance about the operation. Costelloe had not been suspected of involvement until he was arrested.

Defence counsel Mr Barry White SC (with Ms Martina Baxter) said his client's involvement was peripheral.

He had been sucked into the drugs world through debt as a result of unemployment.