THERE will be evidence before the Special Criminal Court that Dublin man Brian Rattigan was the "directing force" behind a €1m heroin deal from his cell in Portlaoise Prison, his trial has heard.
Rattigan (31), with a last address at Cooley Road, Drimnagh, has pleaded not guilty to the possession of heroin and two counts of possession of the drug for sale or supply on Hughes Road South, Walkinstown, Dublin on May 21st, 2008.
He has also pleaded not guilty to the possession of two mobile phones at Cell 42, E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison while an inmate at the prison on May 22nd, 2008.
Opening the prosecution case this afternoon, John O’Kelly SC told the court there would be evidence that gardai who raided a house on Hughes Road discovered quantities of heroin valued at over €1m in a shed at the back of the property.
He said the court would hear that gardai also discovered a red and white Nokia phone alongside an electronic weighing scale in the shed, while a search of a bedroom inside the house yielded just over €36,000 in cash.
Mr O’Kelly said there would be evidence that a text message found on the red and white Nokia phone appeared to relate to the division of a large quantity of heroin and that the message came from a phone number associated with the accused man Brian Rattigan.
He said the court would hear that gardai who went to search the accused man’s cell in Portlaoise Prison found him lying on his bed with a mobile phone in his hand, and that Brian Rattigan threw this phone out of his cell when confronted by gardai.
Mr O’Kelly said the court would see CCTV footage of the mobile phone being thrown on to the prison landing, and that gardai would give evidence of two SIM cards being attached to this phone, as well as the discovery of an additional Samsung mobile phone, another SIM card and notebooks inside the accused man’s cell.
He said there would be evidence that a text message sent from a number attached to one of the phones to another phone found on a man arrested at the house on Hughes Road read: “That dark is there”.
Mr O’Kelly said the court would hear that “dark” is slang for “heroin” and that the message was from Brian Rattigan to the other man informing him a consignment of drugs had arrived at the house.
He said that an incoming message to a number attached to one of the phones found in Portlaoise read “Can you give me half a box of the bad thing for 13 I am waiting on a few bob I could sort you out”, and the prosecution would contend that this was a request for half a kilo of heroin in return for €13,000.
Mr O’Kelly said it was the belief of investigating gardai that a message to “Drop €30 to Parrot”, sent to a contact called “Lips”, was addressed to Brian Rattigan’s partner while Parrot was the nickname of the owner of the house on Hughes Road.
He said the court would hear that “€30” was thought to refer to €30,000, and that €30,000 was found by gardai at the base of a bed in the house on Hughes Road. Mr O’Kelly said that a further message to “Lips” read: “Get rid of your phones quick”.
Mr O’Kelly said the prosecution would submit that the only reasonable inference was that Brian Rattigan was the driving force behind this drugs transaction and that he acted as such by means of telephonic communication.
In March 2011 the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered that Rattigan's trial should be moved from the Circuit Criminal Court to the Special Criminal Court (SCC), which normally deals with terrorist offences, because the ordinary courts are "inadequate" to try the case.
The Special Criminal Court was told that the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, made an order that Rattigan should be tried at the non-jury SCC following an application by the Director of Public Prosecutions under the Offences Against the State Act.
The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, continues in front of presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler.