A Kilkenny roofer who transported cocaine valued over €200,000 in order to repay a “drugs debt” has been given a seven year suspended sentence. Kieran Hickey, (26) of High Street, Ballyragget, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to having cocaine for sale or supply on June 17, 2007.
Judge Rory MacCabe said that given that Hickey “had addressed every aspect of the probation services’ concerns”, was working and had not come to garda attention since the date of the offence, he would take the “unusual step” of suspending the entirety of the sentence for five years.
The court heard that Hickey was observed by a garda surveillance team as he interacted with a taxi they had been monitoring in Dublin city centre on suspicion that it was involved in a drugs operation.
Hickey admitted to gardai he had been paid to transport the 3kg of cocaine, worth €208, 460, by people “he feared” to help relieve his heavy “drugs debt”.
Garda Brian Plunkett told prosecution counsel, Mr Shane Costelloe BL, the garda surveillance team set up checkpoints to intercept Hickey’s white Ford Transit van on the main Kilkenny-bound dual carriageway as they gathered from its number plates it was heading that direction.
He said Hickey failed to drive past the checkpoints because he had taken a wrong turn but when gardai found him on a south Dublin road after a brief search, they uncovered a number of “block-like” packages containing a white substance in the vehicle.
Gda Plunkett said the discovery of 2.9783kgs of cocaine in the back of the van was a bonus find for gardai, who had been focusing solely on the taxi before they saw it allow Hickey pull out in front of it at a rank.
Gda Plunkett said Hickey came from a respectable family and was transporting the drugs for people “he was afraid of” because he had built up a heavy “debt” due to his cocaine addiction .
He agreed with defence counsel, Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, that her client’s family were not aware of his drug addiction and were “horrified” by the incident.
He further agreed that Hickey had since disassociated himself from people involved with drugs, was now drug-free but suffered from depression and anxiety.
Judge MacCabe acknowledged that Hickey has provided clean urine samples since August of last year and would be a “much more useful” member of society if given the chance to continue working.