A three-year prison sentence was handed down to a man who admitted having almost €50,000 worth of cannabis in his possession.
Jaroslaw Liwinski, 16 The Orchard, Chapel Hill, Macroom, Co Cork pleaded guilty to the offence contrary to section 15 of The Misuse of Drugs Act on the M8 at Urlingford.
Garda Mairead Hannon gave evidence that on February 27, 2017 she had received a call from the divisional drugs sergeant who was liaising with the organising crime bureau and was informed of a black mercedes travelling down the M7 towards the M8. The garda was informed that the driver had been observed as being involved in a drugs transaction.
The vehicle was intercepted at junction 5 on the M8. Garda Hannon told the court that the sirens were activated indicating for the defendant to stop, which he did. The defendant gave his name and address to gardaí. When speaking to the defendant the garda noted that the defendant was nervous and agitated and gardaí observed a strong smell of cannabis in the vehicle.
The vehicle was searched a five vacuum sealed bags of cannabis herb were located in a juicer box in the boot. The drugs weighed 2.4kg and had a valuation of €49,892. The search took place on the side of the road and the defendant was arrested and conveyed to Thurles Garda Station where he was interviewed.
The garda told the court that initially when the defendant was interviewed he said that he found the drugs on the motorway. The defendant told gardaí that he was on his way to Kildare Village and that he got out of the car for a cigarette and observed a box. The defendant said that he kicked the box and that the drugs fell out and he said it would bring it back and smoke it.
The garda outlined how a further search took place at his home and a subsequent amount of drugs were found, which are the subject of a separate prosecution. The defendant is not subject to that prosecution. The defendant his story and told the gardaí that the drugs found on the side of the motorway were his.
“He told gardaí that he made an arrangement to collect the drugs and bring them to Cork and to leave them under a bridge near Glanmire,” said Gda Hannon adding that the defendant is the only person being prosecuted in relation to the cannabis seizure.
“The defendant was under surveillance by a national unit and was found to be in possession of a large quantity of cannabis herb. He did disclose in interview that he was under duress at the time but he did not give gardaí any other details.
“In interview he said that he was receiving money to transport the drugs and my belief is that he was involved in selling the drugs and would receive more money, said the garda.
The defendant has one previous conviction under The Road Traffic Act.
The court heard that the defendant is a Polish national and that the High Court has received an application for an European Arrest Warrant.
The defence barrister said that the defendant admitted in interview that he would be paid €500 for transportation and that he had not come to garda attention prior or since the incident before the court.
The court also heard that the defendant is 41 years of age and has no addiction issues and is hard working. He was driving his own car on the date in question and that he had come to Ireland in 2009 and had moved here permanently in 2014. He has two children, one in Poland and one in Cork and is in full time employment. He was assaulted following the incident but did not disclose to gardaí who did it.
A probation report was handed into the court which stated that the defendant is ‘at a low risk of re-offending’.
Judge Cormac Quinn commented that the defendant had ‘got into a situation above his head’ and that he ‘has already paid the price in terms of his personal safety’.
“Initially he gave a cock and bull story that he found the drugs on the side of the motorway,” remarked the judge adding that gardaí believed that he did it for monetary gain.
“It is appropriate to deal with the defendant as a courier which is still an important role as without which drug dealing could not occur,” he said.
The judge convicted the defendant and imposed a three-year prison sentence and backdated it to March 22.
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