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Man (18) accused of dealing cocaine and allegedly breaching Covid-19 restrictions appears in court

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A YOUNG man has been accused of dealing cocaine during the lockdown and laughing in a garda’s face when separately challenged over allegedly breaching the new Covid-19 public safety laws.

Karl Byrne (18) told gardai he was going to shops to buy a can of coke and chocolate, and getting “fresh air” when he was stopped for other alleged breaches, a court heard.

Judge Grainne Malone granted him bail despite garda objections and adjourned the case.

Mr Byrne, from Termon Court, Ballymun, is charged with possession of cocaine for sale or supply at the Seven Pitches, also in Ballymun on April 22 last.

He is also charged with three breaches of the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act, 2020, on dates this month.

Mr Byrne is further charged with possession of a small amount of cannabis at Termon Court in April 27.

Dublin District Court heard the accused had come to garda attention on 18 occasions since April 18. The prosecuting garda said he had interacted with Mr Byrne on numerous occasions over 10 days. Each time he engaged with the accused, he encouraged him to adhere to the Covid regulations but gardai were left with no option but to enforce the legislation.

In relation to the cocaine possession charge, he said Mr Byrne was alleged to have had between €4,000 and €5,000 worth of the drug, subject to analysis.

A garda witness said he stopped the accused around 500 metres from his home in Ballymun on April 8. Mr Byrne was “in the company of a number of individuals” and when asked for the reason he was out and about, he replied that he was “going to the shops to buy a can of coke and some chocolate.”

The garda explained to him that was not an essential journey and encouraged him to go home, but he got “belligerent.”

In another incident, a garda said she was on patrol at Poppintree Parade on April 7 when she saw Mr Byrne, who “took off on foot.” She later stopped and searched him and when she asked his purpose for being in the area, he “just laughed in my face.”

Another garda said the accused was with four other males congregated at a green area at Druid Court, Ballymun at 12.25pm on a hot, sunny day on April 15.

There was a strong smell of cannabis from the group and the accused was lying on the grass.

There was no social distancing, they were all close together and they did not reside at the same address, the garda said.

Asked why he was out, Mr Byrne said he was “out getting fresh air,” the garda said.

He told Mr Byrne he was in breach of the Covid regulations and advised him to go home and abide by the regulations in future.

The accused was about 150 metres from his home address at the time.

Applying for bail, defence solicitor Luke Staines said Mr Byrne was presumed innocent, wanted to fight the charges and would be in custody for over a year if refused bail.

Judge Malone granted bail on condition the accused adheres to current Covid regulations, signs on daily at Ballymun Garda Station, observes a curfew between 11pm and 6am surrenders his passport, provides a mobile phone number and stays away from Poppintree shops and a green area at Druid Court.

She said no evidence had been given in relation to the cocaine possession charge. The judge granted free legal aid to Mr Byrne after hearing he was unemployed.

She adjourned the case to May 13.

Online Editors