Sunday 21 July 2019

Heroin addict had to give keys of his council flat to dealer over €5,000 debt

Declan Hendley: Had ‘gun rammed in his mouth by drug dealer’. Picture: Collins
Declan Hendley: Had ‘gun rammed in his mouth by drug dealer’. Picture: Collins

Ray Managh

A heroin addict, who owed a drug dealer €5,000 and had a gun rammed into his mouth, had to hand over keys to his city council flat while the dealer rented it out to recover the debt, a court heard.

Declan Hendley (50), who is now fighting to remain drug free and keep his home, told Circuit Court President Mr Raymond Groarke he could not tell gardaí about the threats as he had been warned he would be shot.

Instead he had opted to sleep in drug dens, cars, or on sofas in other people's houses while the dealer, known only as "Paul", rented out his Hampton Wood, north Dublin, flat to two tenants.

In the meantime, Dublin City Council continued to receive his rent from his social welfare allowance. Carol O'Farrell, counsel for the local authority, said he had been considered a model tenant.

Hendley told his counsel Serena McGrane he had been "clean" until a relapse caused by the death of his mother and his partner in 2016.

The court heard that Mr Hendley's predicament was not discovered until the debt had been paid and the new "tenants" had moved out.

Dublin City Council sought a repossession order at the Circuit Civil Court for Mr Hendley's flat which is in a major development off Jamestown Road between Ballymun and the M50.

Mr Hendley, who appealed a District Court decision granting possession to the council, told the court he would be homeless again if his flat was repossessed.

Dublin City Council housing manager Michael Clarke said Mr Hendley's tenancy agreement had been breached by the sub-letting of the property.

Mr Hendley, who said he received a disability allowance, denied having breached his tenancy agreement with the council. He had owed his dealer €5,000 and had been told to carry out robberies or move drugs, which he refused to do. When the new tenants in his flat left, he had broken the door to get back in.

Judge Groarke said he was satisfied Mr Hendley, who had clearly overcome very considerable personal difficulties, had been getting on very well with his life until he had relapsed. He refused the council's application and granted Mr Hendley his legal costs.

Judge Groarke issued a stern warning against any letting or estate agency or auctioneer who would facilitate drug pushers with unsigned, sham letting agreements as, the judge said, had happened in Mr Hendley's case.

Irish Independent

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