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01 Jul 2022

Prison sentence for drugs found on bus in Kilkenny

Kilkenny Courthouse

Kilkenny Courthouse

A four-year prison sentence was handed down to a man who admitted being in possession of approximately €52,000 worth of heroin and cocaine on a bus in Kilkenny City.
Justin O’Callaghan, 224 Larchville, Waterford pleaded guilty to the offence at Blanchfields Land, Kilkenny on March 16, 2022.
Detective Garda Mary Keegan gave evidence at Kilkenny Circuit Court when she outlined the facts surrounding the incident. On the date in question a garda checkpoint was set up at the location, which is the link road between the M9 and Kilkenny City. It was a Covid checkpoint and a Dublin Coach pulled up at the checkpoint. The bus driver said to gardaí there they were two men acting suspiciously at the back of the bus.
Gardaí then proceeded to speak to the defendant and to ask the defendant why he was travelling at the time. The defendant said that he was visiting a relative in hospital but had no proof and had no identification on him.
Gardaí searched the defendant’s luggage and observed plastic bags on the seat. On the seat behind the defendant there was a white sock in a bag and gardaí observed that there was brown powder in the sock, which gardaí believed was diamorphine. Another white sock was found on another seat with a substance suspected to be cocaine.
The defendant was arrested and brought to Kilkenny Garda Station and was interviewed and shown CCTV from the bus. The defendant identified himself on the bus and said that he was moving the sock with the cocaine and was also seen handling the diamorphine.
The court heard that on the date in question the defendant said that he was acting as a mule and was bringing drugs back to Waterford to pass on to someone else and said that he had a drugs debt.
The defendant entered an early guilty plea and the drugs were sent for forensic analysis which showed that one sock contained cocaine and the second sock contained diamorphine. One sock contained 11 bags of diamorphine and a bag of cocaine. In the other sock there were four bags of cocaine. In total there was 315 grams of diamorphine, valued at €44,100 seized and 112.5 grams of cocaine seized with a value of €7840.
Prosecuting barrister, Dylan Redmond told the court that there was no evidence that the defendant had any ‘trappings of wealth’.
The court heard that the defendant has 31 previous convictions including 15 previous convictions under The Public Order Act, 11 previous convictions under The Road Traffic Act, three previous convictions for criminal damage, one conviction under The Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act and one previous conviction for possession of drugs for personal use.
Defence barrister, Aidan Doyle handed a number of testimonials into the court on behalf of his client. Mr Doyle said that his client had left school at 14 and had completed his Junior Cert and went on to work with Waterford Crystal until the factory closed down.
“He went on to do building and plastering work up until close to Covid,” said Mr Doyle adding that his client has not worked since.
“He has difficult family circumstances. His father has a serious cancer diagnosis and his mother is taking care of him,” said Mr Doyle adding that his client has two sons.
“He was working hard for some years but unfortunately he developed a drugs habit and ran up a drugs debt and was using cocaine,” said Mr Doyle who also informed the court that his client is living with his parents.
“He made full admissions and assisted gardaí in identifying himself and the drugs in the CCTV footage,” he added.
Detective Garda Keegan remarked to the court that the ‘quantity of heroin seized was one of the largest ever seized in Kilkenny.’
Judge Catherine Staines said that there were a number of aggravating factors in the court including the high value of the drugs and the fact that the defendant has 31 previous convictions, including a previous conviction for a drugs offence. Judge Staines also said that there were mitigating factors in the case including the defendant’s co-operation with gardaí and that the defendant indicated to the gardaí that he was a mule.
A letter from the defendant’s mother was also handed into the court which stated that there were people knocking on her door and that she had to resort to loan sharks to pay her son’s debts and keep him safe.
“The abuse of cocaine and heroin causes havoc to society,” said the judge.
Judge Staines imposed a four year prison sentence and suspended the final year for two years on condition that the defendant enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years and that he engage with the Probation Services.

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