News Courts

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Pharmaceutical company employee jailed for stealing Rohypnol

Aoife Nic Ardghail

Published 24/07/2014 | 17:05

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The landmark case is believed to be the first of its kind to be taken against a private investigator
Gardaí with confidential information arrested Gary Byrne (41) on his way from work and discovered the drugs in the back of his car.

An former employee at a pharmaceutical company has been jailed for one year for stealing the firm’s version of Rohypnol to offset a drug debt.

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Gardaí with confidential information arrested Gary Byrne (41) on his way from work and discovered the drugs in the back of his car.

Detective Garda Robert Rawl told the court that Byrne, a father-of-three claimed he had taken the bag to help pay off a €1,500 drug debt.

He was rearrested when his employers realised he had been stealing from them over the previous two years. He then admitted his debt was closer to €10,000.

Byrne of Belcamp Gardens, Darndale, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to six charges of stealing tablets, including Flunitrazepam, which gardai valued at €180 a batch, between June 2010 and July 2011.

He also pleaded guilty to having over 1,200 tablets worth €2,546 in the back of his car as he left work at Gerard Laboratories, Baldoyle Industrial Estate on January 5, 2012.      

Judge Mary Ellen Ring noted that a Probation Service report put Byrne at moderate risk of reoffending because of his unemployment and drug addiction issues. She imposed a three year sentence with the final two years suspended.      

Det Gda Rawl said the drugs can be used as sleeping tablets or antidepressants and also “help people come down off cocaine”.            

He told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that Byrne said he had twice gone into the compression room where the drugs were converted from fine powder into tablets and taken a container full in January, 2012.

Det Gda Rawl said Byrne was rearrested on January 20, 2012 when the company reviewed CCTV footage from 2010 and 2011. It was noted that the ex-employee’s swipe card had accessed the compression room on certain dates.

Byrne admitted he would go into the room, scoop up the tablets and return to his area. He then would put the drugs in a bag and carry it through security in his underwear to his car at lunchtime.

He said he would rarely be searched and described the one or two searches he did undergo with as “not very good.”

Det Gda Rawl agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, that his client was co-operative and polite during the investigation and his early guilty plea had been of great assistance. He agreed Byrne had told gardai he was under pressure and that he had a longstanding cocaine problem.

He further agreed Byrne was employed by Gerard Laboratories for ten years before being fired for the offences.

The detective said that three other workers were convicted for stealing drugs from the factory in 2005. He said one of these people received 240 hours community service in lieu of two years in prison for theft of drugs worth €42,000.

Mr O’Higgins submitted to Judge Ring that his client has a long history of recreational drug abuse and was deemed to have “poor judgement skills” by a psychologist.

He said a “peculiar” aspect of the case was that Byrne had always been employed despite his drug abuse.

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