A Sligo resident who along with a then 17-year-old boy was caught in possession of over €100,000 of heroin has been given a five year suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Anthony Fitzpatrick (22), originally from The Liberties in Dublin, has no previous convictions and moved to Sligo 18 months ago where he now lives with his partner and attends college.
He told gardaí on arrest that he got involved in the offence because he was under pressure to pay a drug debt arising from his cannabis addiction.
His co-accused, Daniel O’Neill (19), who is currently living in temporary accommodation with Focus Ireland, told gardaí he had paid upfront for the heroin and was making a profit of €5,000 in a fortnight.
He took full responsibility for the total of 703.98 grammes of heroin, worth €105,598, and said Fitzpatrick didn’t own the drugs.
Both O’Neill and Fitzpatrick of Teeling House Apartment, Tubbercurry, pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at various locations in Dublin 8 on March 5, 2013.
Earlier this month Judge Martin Nolan sentenced O’Neill to a five year jail term which he suspended in full. He said he had come to the conclusion O’Neill’s involvement was not as serious as he had suggested.
Today Judge Mary Ellen Ring accepted that Fitzpatrick had no previous convictions while O’Neill had two previous and a probation report before the court indicated that Fitzpatrick was at the lower end of the medium range of re-offending.
She took into account the fact that he has moved away from his family and peer group in Dublin and has settled well in Sligo. She further accepted that he has not come to garda attention since the offence and has been undergoing treatment to deal with his cannabis addiction.
Judge Ring sentenced Fitzpatrick to five years in prison but suspended it in full on strict conditions including that he engage with the Probation Service for a year.
“If you get into trouble in the next five years I will have no option to put you in prison for five years,” she warned Fitzpatrick after he entered into his bond.
She also advised that if he doesn’t co-operate with the Probation Service for a year as ordered “they will be back to me like a shot” and he will have to go to jail.
Garda Paddy Martin agreed with James Dwyer BL, defending, that his client had “no trappings of wealth” and was no living in Sligo in a stable environment where he has not come to garda attention.
Mr Dwyer told Judge Ring that his client came from a large family and both his parents died when he was 13 years old. The children were separated and Fitzpatrick lived with a family friend. He remained in school and completed his leaving certificate but had to move into hostel accommodation when he was 18.
Counsel said a probation report before the court indicated that Fitzpatrick had engaged positively with the service, had expressed remorse for his role and showed insight into his offending behaviour. He is still using cannabis but is getting treatment for this.
Gda Martin told Lorcan Staines BL, prosecuting that gardaí set up a surveillance operation following a tip off.
O’Neill and Fitzpatrick were spotted on three occasions meeting other males during which gardaí suspected drugs were being exchanged.
Gardaí followed the two men to a house on North Circular Road where they stayed for an hour before leaving again in a taxi. Both Fitzpatrick and O’Neill were later stopped in this taxi and a shopping bag containing €36,390 worth of heroin was found at O’Neill’s feet.
Gda Martin said €4,000 worth of heroin was found in the teenager’s underwear in a follow-up search at the garda station.
A further search of the premises the pair had just left led to the discovery of €65,100 worth of heroin in a compartment under the kitchen sink.
O’Neill admitted in interview that all the drugs were his for sale or supply. He said he would earn about €5,000 in profit after two weeks.
O’Neill knew the monetary value of various different weights of heroin and said that he sold “five half gardens that day”.
He said the drugs had been paid for and he didn’t owe any money for them. He told gardaí he was sorry and he would stop.