THE Special Criminal Court has found Dublin criminal Brian Rattigan guilty of the possession and supply of €1m worth of heroin.
The non-jury court this morning agreed with the prosecution case that Rattigan (32) was the director of a drugs gang conducting a €1m heroin deal.
The case is believed to be the first time a drug dealer has been found guilty of charges connected to directing the supply of drugs while incarcerated.
Rattigan, formerly of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, had 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 12 on May 21st, 2008.
The court cleared him of two counts relating to the possession of two mobile phones at Cell 42, E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison while an inmate at the prison on May 22nd, 2008, which he had also denied.
Returning a written judgement, presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler said the court was satisfied that a “tick list” was sent by Rattigan to a Nokia mobile phone found with the heroin at the house on Hughes Road South and this, taken in conjunction with notes found in his prison cell, amounted to directions as to the distribution of the drugs.
Mr Justice Butler said that no other reasonable inference could be drawn from evidence before the court.
The court heard that gardai who raided the house on Hughes Road South discovered five kilos of heroin valued at over €1m and a red and white Nokia phone in a shed at the back of the property, while a search of a bedroom inside the house yielded just over €36,000 in cash.
Drugs expert Detective Sergeant Brian Robertson gave evidence that a text message printed out from an analysis of the Nokia phone, which spoke of “half bars,” boxes” and “9” being allocated to names such as “Gangko” “McGyver” “Peck” and “Crazy”, referred to the division of drugs by weight.
The court heard that the sender of the text message was a phone number belonging to a SIM card that was thrown out of Brian Rattigan’s cell.
Members of the Garda Organised Crime Unit who raided Rattigan’s cell in Portlaoise Prison told the court that they found the accused man lying on his bed with a mobile phone in his hand, and that he threw this phone out of his cell when confronted by gardai.
CCTV footage of an object being thrown on to the prison landing was viewed by the court, while gardai gave evidence that two SIM cards were attached to this device, and that they found an additional Samsung mobile phone, another SIM card and notebooks inside the accused man’s cell.
Sergeant Tony Flanagan gave evidence that he examined one of the two notebooks seized by detectives, and that it also contained a long list of names and numbers, including names such as “McGyver” followed by the word “half”, “Gangko” succeeded by the number “9” and “Crazy” also followed by “9”.
Mr Justice Butler said the court was “fully satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt” that Rattigan threw a mobile phone out of his cell upon the arrival of gardai to search it, and that he was in possession of that device and others found in his cell.
However, he said the court found that the legislation on the possession of mobile phones in prison was drafted without any presumption that a person is without permission, and that there was an onus on the prosecution to prove the matter.
During closing speeches, counsel for the defence, Mr Brendan Grehan SC, said there was a “deficit of proof” with regard to the two counts of mobile phone possession, as the prosecution failed to call two assistant governors who had the authority to grant permission for a phone to be used, and thus the offence had not been made out to the requisite standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mr Justice Butler said the court was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt in respect of the evidence adduced in relation to the mobile phone counts and would find Rattigan not guilty.
He said the court would list the matter for sentencing on March 20th next.
Mr Justice Butler said that although the court, through expert evidence, was familiar with the effects of pipe bombs and improvised explosive devices, when passing sentence in this case it desired formal evidence as to the effects and quantity of the heroin found.
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.