Sunday 18 March 2018

Man fled to escape drug 'underworld'

A DRUG dealer left Dundalk to escape the 'underworld' culture but returned to face criminal charges, the district court heard last week.

Darren Shevlin, Crossbeigh, Knockbridge, admitted having 700 ecstacy tablets and more than 100 Xanax tablets for sale or supply at a house in Woodbury Gardens on November 30, 2011. In addition, gardai found more than €3,000 in cash and two lists with names and phone numbers on them when they searched the property.

Shevlin (26) was in the house when gardai arrived and was seen putting a sports bag into a hot press upstairs. It was in this that the drugs, with an estimated street value of €2,600, were found.

Judge Flann Brennan also heard Shevlin had been given two community service orders for other offences in March and May 2012. There was a waiting list to get on to the work schemes and he was contacted four times in October 2012 about starting the service, but gardai were unable to find him as he was in Australia at the time.

Solicitor Dermot Lavery said his client, who has a number of previous convictions including drug dealing, was 'heavily involved in the culture and taking of drugs at the time'. A probation officer said he had been assessed as being suitable for community service and there were 'no addiction issues at that time'.

Mr Lavery said that, from 2009 to 2011, Shevlin was 'embroiled in the culture of taking and dealing drugs and was involved in the criminal underworld that controls this pernicious trade'.

The solicitor said: 'He made a decision, which was completely unlawful, to avoid this court by going to Australia 18 months ago and what he did was completely wrong, and he understands the trouble that he is in.

'He felt so tangled up in drugs at the time he felt he had no alternative but to run away. The least of his worries was what this court would have done to him. Over the course of the 18 months, he worked for a construction company and remarkably, almost miraculously, he became drug-free. He is now back in Ireland and is working in a joiner's workshop.

'I appreciate that the court can't allow people to deal with problems in their own way but if he had not left and performed the community service or was sent to prison, he would be no further on now and would still be enmeshed in that culture. He wouldn't be let leave it.

'He appreciates that he has to deal with the matters he has left behind. While it would be an extraordinary precedent what he appears to have achieved, I would ask the court to consider a report to see if it bears out what he is saying.'

Judge Brennan granted bail for Shevlin in his own bond of €500 and adjourned the case to October 1. He warned: 'I'm not making any promises. It would be asking in a sense for me to establish a precedent that runs contrary to the premise of justice.'

The Argus