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Judge hails how pandemic controls have hit drug networks

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A judge hailed the Covid-19 lockdown for having the unexpected benefit of potentially crippling the illegal drug distribution trade.

Judge Brian O'Callaghan said that while Ireland was taking vital measures to deal with a life-threatening pandemic, drugs represented a "virus" which had infected society for decades.

Covid-19 movement restrictions were now having the unexpected benefit of helping gardaí foil the drug distribution trade by making drug shipments easier to identify.

Operation Fanacht checkpoints, to ensure 2km movement restrictions were being fully adhered to, had resulted in numerous drug seizures over recent weeks.

Judge O'Callaghan's comments at Cork Circuit Criminal Court came as a talented former Irish boxer was jailed for two-and-a-half years for possession of cocaine for sale or supply two years ago.

Roy Carroll (27), of Farranferris Park, Farranree, Co Cork, was convicted of possession for sale or supply of cocaine valued at €8,700 on the Dublin-Cork motorway at Watergrasshill on January 10, 2018.

Carroll had denied the charge but was convicted by a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury last February.

Judge O'Callaghan imposed a four-year prison sentence but agreed to suspend the final 18 months.

He hit out at the impact illegal drugs had on Irish society.

"[It is] a virus which had afflicted Irish society for many years," he warned.

"The difficulties we are experiencing over the coronavirus might highlight the unlawful drugs virus and leave these people with nowhere to go.

"If it does, it would be a small silver lining to this pandemic shutdown."

Carroll is a former boxer who was once regarded as one of Ireland's most talented underage hopes.

He had denied possession for sale or supply of the cocaine at the M8 toll plaza two years ago.

During the sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Liam Finn told the court that Carroll was bringing the cocaine from Dublin to Cork with another individual.

That individual was the mastermind behind the shipment and Carroll was a front-seat passenger in the car.

The vehicle was stopped by gardaí at Watergrasshill and officers informed the occupants they were going to conduct a search of the car.

Shortly after getting out of the car, the detective said Carroll suddenly ran away from the scene when told to flee by the driver.

However, gardaí spotted Carroll remove a packet from his pocket and throw it away as he ran. The packet was found to contain cocaine.

Irish Independent