A Waterford drug courier who has been in hiding from other “ruthless and insidious” criminals since his arrest for having €47,000 worth of cannabis has been jailed for three years.
Michael Dempsey (32), who had worked as a technician for Sky, was stopped by gardai coming out of Busáras when they got a smell of cannabis coming from his suitcase. They later found that one of the bags in the suitcase had split.
Garda Kevin Carey agreed with Remy Farrell SC that his client owed money to drug dealers in his native Waterford but this debt was then sold on to a more serious criminal gang in Dublin.
His “modest debt” was then multiplied by a factor of three or four and escalated to €55,000.
At one point Dempsey was bundled into a van and threatened with a gun before he was warned his head would be blown off if he did not pay the debt. His family home was petrol bombed, his hand broken with a sledge hammer and his teeth smashed in.
Gda Carey said he subsequently investigated Dempsey’s claims he had been threatened and confirmed that they were credible. He said Dempsey had received documentation from the gardai in April 2010 stating that his life was under threat.
The garda further accepted that Dempsey had been used as courier in order to pay off the debt and was considered “completely disposable” by these criminals.
“It is my belief that he would have been used as a courier until he got caught by gardai,” Gda Carey said before he accepted that Dempsey has been in hiding since his arrest.
He also accepted that these people would still be able to reach Dempsey in prison and that if jailed, he would be in 23 hour lock up for his own safety.
Dempsey with an address at Tubui in Urlingford, Co Kilkenny, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cannabis, worth an estimated €47,120, for sale or supply on Store Street, on January 17, 2011.
He has five previous convictions which were mainly for road traffic offences.
Gda Carey told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that Dempsey made full admissions on arrest but did not reveal the identities of the owners of the drugs. Dempsey told gardai he had agreed to transport the drugs to pay off a debt.
Judge Martin Nolan accepted that Dempsey’s original debt had been sold on to “much more ruthless and insidious people” who then seriously threatened and beat him.
“In a sense he is the author of his own misfortune,” Judge Nolan said. “By allowing himself to be indebted to these people, he exposed himself to these threats”.
He said “the proper course” would have been to notify the gardai of the threats but accepted that Dempsey did not feel like he was in a position to do that.
Judge Nolan accepted that Dempsey had pleaded guilty and co-operated with gardai but said it is not unusual for debts to be used “as a leverage” to get someone to transport drugs.