Sunday 25 February 2018

Man who held €70k worth of heroin to pay drug debt sentenced to five years

Liam Brien was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by Judge Rory McCabe on March 17 2013.
Liam Brien was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by Judge Rory McCabe on March 17 2013.

Sonya McLean

A man who held over €70,000 worth of heroin in order to pay off a €2,500 drug debt has been sentenced to five years in prison with the final three suspended.

Christopher McDonagh (30) told gardaí he had been holding the drugs for a week after he was told to do so by his own dealer who had been supplying him with prescription drugs.

McDonagh of Parlickstown Avenue, Mulhuddart, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing just over 471 grammes of heroin, worth €70,695, at his home on February 24, 2013. He has 10 previous convictions.

Garda Anton Keating agreed with Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, defending, that McDonagh, although addicted to medication, had an anti-heroin stance at the time and has since tried to get his friends off the drug.

“He would have some job,” Gda Keating remarked but agreed that McDonagh’s only role was to mind the drugs and accepted that he would have been in fear of the man to whom he owed money.

Gda Keating told Garnet Orange SC, prosecuting, that gardaí were investigating the sale of cannabis in the area when they secured a warrant to search McDonagh’s home.

He told gardaí that there were drugs in his bedroom after a small amount of cannabis was found in a front room. The heroin was later discovered in a biscuit tin on top of a wardrobe. Drug paraphernalia, including bagging, a knife and a tick list, was also found.

McDonagh took responsibility for the drugs and told gardaí he had agreed to mind them in order to pay off his own €2,500 debt.

He didn’t name the owner of the drugs but Gda Keating agreed that McDonagh would have been in genuine fear for his and his family’s safety.

Mr O’Loughlin told Judge Ring that his client started taking drugs when he was 13 years old but never used heroin. His brother died from a heroin overdose shortly after their father passed away three years ago which led to McDonagh becoming addicted to prescription drugs.

Mr O'Loughlin said McDonagh suffers from depression.

He said probation services put McDonagh at moderate risk of re-offending but that if he addressed his cannabis misuse, this risk would be greatly reduced.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring said McDonagh appeared to be “turning the corner that would lead him to a quiet, healthier life away from drugs”.

She noted McDonagh had accepted full responsibility, cooperated with gardaí and that he had felt under threat when he was told to hold the drugs.

Judge Ring backdated the sentence to November 11, 2014 and ordered McDonagh to comply with probation services for 18 months on release.

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