Saturday 16 December 2017

Former steeplejack jailed for three years after being caught with €78,000 worth of drugs

Conor Gallagher

A FORMER steeplejack has been sentenced to six years with three suspended for possession of €78,000 worth of cannabis.

Martin Byrne (26), of Kilbeggan Road, Clara, Co Offaly, pleaded guilty at Dublin Criminal Circuit Court to possession of 66 bars of cannabis resin of varying sizes on January 18, 2011.

Garda Sergeant Shane Fitzsimmons told Ronan Kennedy BL that gardai had received confidential information a delivery of drugs would be made to Churchwell Place, Dublin 15.

Following garda surveillance, a search warrant was granted for the premises where a black rubbish bag containing the drugs was found.

Sgt Fitzsimmons said Byrne had told gardai during interview that he had been pressured into delivering a bag containing the cannabis to pay a drug debt.

The garda confirmed Byrne had owed a small debt of €300 to a group of drug dealers in the Athlone area and had been tricked into thinking this had increased to a sum of €2,500.

Byrne has four previous convictions, for drink driving and public order offences. He lives with his mother and has two children who do not live with him.

Defence counsel Paul Burns SC submitted that Byrne was not a prime mover in the criminal gang linked to the drugs. He describing him as “not very bright” and said: “He was used as a patsy … by sinister people who can spot a vulnerable person.”

He said it was not unusual for drug-dealers to entrap people like this and that Byrne had changed his phone number in an effort to escape from the gang.

Sgt Fitzsimmons agreed with counsel that Byrne had learned a difficult lesson and said: “I don’t think he will be involved with something like this again.”

Judge Margaret Heneghan imposed a six-year sentence but suspended the final three years on strict conditions including that Byrne undergo 12 months’ probation supervision on his release.

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