Rattigan ran drug gang from jail, court told

Brian Kavanagh

DUBLIN criminal Brian Rattigan directed a gang operating a drugs business from his cell in Portlaoise prison, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

The court is set to take four days to decide on the evidence against the 32-year-old after hearing closing speeches in the non-jury trial.

Rattigan, formerly of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, has pleaded not guilty to the possession of heroin and two counts of possession of the drug for sale or supply on Hughes Road South, Walkinstown, Dublin on May 21, 2008.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the possession of two mobile phones at Cell 42, E1 Landing, Portlaoise while an inmate at the prison on May 22, 2008.

"This was a gang operating a drug business, and the one directing it was Brian Rattigan from his prison cell," counsel for the prosecution, John O'Kelly, told the court.

Mr O'Kelly said five kilos of heroin found at the house on Hughes Road South were under the control of Rattigan.

He said that people arrested in the house were Rattigan's 'loyal lieutenants', acting on instructions "all coming one way" from a device in the possession of the accused.

Mr O'Kelly said that, using different mobile phone SIM cards, Rattigan kept in "very close communication" with those acting on the outside.

analysis

He said that a text message sent to a red-and-white Nokia 5300 seized by gardai along with the heroin in a shed at the back of the house on Hughes Road South was a 'tick list' and instructions from Rattigan on how to dispose of and break up the heroin.

Mr O'Kelly said that telephone analysis had shown the sender of the text message was a SIM card found in the possession of Rattigan when his cell was searched the following day.

He said other phones and documents seized showed that this was no isolated text.

Mr O'Kelly said the only rational inference to be formed from the evidence was that the drugs found in the house on Hughes Road South were in fact under the control of Rattigan.

Counsel for the defence, Mr Brendan Grehan, said that, from the outset, the owner of the house on Hughes Road South took full responsibility for the possession of the drugs, while there was no eyewitness to say Rattigan had direct involvement in possession, no admission of culpability, no fingerprint evidence and no DNA evidence to tie the accused man to the drugs.

He said the case relied on circumstantial evidence only, and told the court there was not enough substance in the evidential strands to make "the strength of rope necessary" to hang a possession charge on.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, said the court believed it would require four clear days to consider the evidence before it.

hnews@herald.ie