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€80k drug find after man's row with lover

Gardai trying to resolve a domestic dispute between a couple uncovered nearly €80,000 worth of drugs in the process, a court has heard.

The couple was having a dispute about a silver Lexus car that the man would not return to his partner.

After the man left the house, the woman asked gardai to search the car for ownership documents -- and found six bags of cocaine and two of heroin, the court was told.

Stephen Barnwell (23) avoided a jail sentence as he had no previous convictions and was in steady employment.

The drugs were found in aftershave boxes in the boot of his girlfriend's car.

Barnwell, of Ravenswood Crescent, Clonee, pleaded guilty to possession of €74,000 worth of cocaine and heroin at his home on March 21, 2010.


Judge Martin Nolan in the Central Criminal Court said he did not believe Barnwell would reoffend and imposed a five-year sentence suspended for five years on strict conditions.

Garda Grainne Cafferty said in evidence that she responded to a call about a domestic dispute between Barnwell and his girlfriend at around 1pm.

They were having an argument about a silver Lexus car that Barnwell would not return to his partner. Gardai asked him to empty his pockets so they could get the keys and he complied. He then agreed to leave the house until the situation calmed down.

Barnwell's girlfriend asked gardai to search the Lexus to retrieve ownership documents.

As they carried out the search they came across a hold-all in the boot containing two aftershave boxes.


They contained six bags of cocaine and two bags of heroin with a street value of €74,000.

Barnwell was arrested shortly afterwards and admitted holding the drugs. He said he was keeping them for someone else in return for a few hundred euro. He said the drug's owners were to collect them later that day.

He told gardai that he was not a drug addict but smoked cannabis and spent around €200 a week on it. He entered an early plea of guilty.

Defence counsel, Dominic McGinn, said Barnwell had been a talented footballer in his youth before he fell into cannabis use. He said he was in full-time employment and also did voluntary work cleaning up graves in Glasnevin cemetery.