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Saturday 30 August 2014

Former garda let friend take the blame for LSD found in wallet

Declan Brennan

Published 26/03/2014 | 02:30

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Former Garda Stephen Cooper arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday
Former Garda Stephen Cooper arriving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday

A FORMER garda who perverted the course of justice on two occasions and admitted having cocaine for sale or supply has been remanded in custody for sentencing at a later date.

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Stephen Cooper (29) allowed a friend take the blame when gardai found the drug LSD during a search at the Electric Picnic music festival.

Detective Garda Stephen Courage told Sean Gillane, prosecuting, that on September 5, 2009, Cooper and his friends, Niall Wolfe and Luke Barnett, were at the music festival in Stradbally, Co Laois.

Mr Wolfe was collecting drink from the car parked outside of the festival grounds and Cooper rang him from inside the festival security perimeter and asked him to bring Cooper's wallet into the festival.

When gardai stopped Mr Wolfe and searched him, they found the wallet contained the controlled drug LSD, also known as "acid", the detective told Mr Gillane.

Mr Wolfe phoned Cooper who became agitated and Mr Barnett, who knew Cooper was a recreational drug user, agreed to "take the rap" and said the drugs were his.

Mr Barnett was prosecuted for possession of a controlled drug. He pleaded guilty at Portlaoise District Court and was ordered to pay €300 to the poor box.

WRONGFULLY

Cooper, of The Green, Kingswood Heights, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice between September 5, 2009, and September 2, 2010, by knowingly allowing Luke Barnett to be wrongfully prosecuted on September 2, 2010.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded Cooper in custody and adjourned the matter until April 2. Cooper also pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice between August 19, 2010, and October 21, 2011, when he attempted to get Stephanie Lynch to make a false statement implicating Wayne Finane in the theft of a car.

Det Gda Courage said he believed Cooper wanted to put pressure on Mr Finane to give him information about "criminal activity".

Gardai began to monitor Cooper's movements, and the following January found €700 worth of cocaine in his wallet during a search. Cooper pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine for sale or supply at Ormond Quay on January 31, 2011. He also pleaded guilty to deception of Axa Insurance on November 12, 2010, by making a false insurance claim.

Cooper was also charged with stealing a bag of cannabis herb worth €560 from Sundrive Road garda station on May 27, 2010, but this count was withdrawn.

Isobel Kennedy, defending, said her client's offending behaviour stemmed from a long-standing drug addiction problem. She said he was now free of this addiction.

Irish Independent

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