A State application to seize money from a Portlaoise man which was the suspected profits of drug dealing has been rejected, as Judge Catherine Staines accepted the man’s claim that €1,700 found on him along with heroin had been loaned to him by his mother.
At last week’s Portlaoise District Court a disposal of property under the Police Property Act was brought against Patrick Byrne. Garda John Paul O’Brien gave evidence that Byrne was convicted at the Portlaoise Circuit Court in December, 2011, of having heroin for sale or supply, at a date in April, 2010. Byrne was given a two-year sentence, suspended.
Garda O’Brien said that Byrne had been caught with heroin and €1,700 in cash, which the garda believed was the proceeds of drug dealing. Garda O’Brien said that when Byrne was interviewed, he claimed he had won the money on dogs and was going to use it to pay off a drug debt.
“I took some of it out of the bank, some I had on me, and some I won on the dogs,” Byrne told the garda.
Garda O’Brien said that Byrne had been smoking three to four bags of heroin a day, and had been selling an ounce of the drug per week for €1,600, buying it at €900 an ounce.
Byrne objected to the State’s application, and claimed he couldn’t remember making admissions to the gardaí as he had “swallowed a load of benzos (benzodiazepine)” and was “in no fit state”.
He told the court he had got a loan of €3,000 from his mother to clear off debts in Dublin, but while in the capital he “slipped” and bought drugs.
“I was probably lying (when I spoke to Garda O’Brien), I can’t remember,” he said. “I’m not going to argue with what I said, but that was a lie.”
His mother, Mrs Sheila Byrne took the stand and gave evidence she had taken out a loan of €3,000, which she gave to her son as he was “very upset about these people after him”.
“He was in a desperate state,” she said.
Judge Staines asked Byrne if he had any objection to the money being paid to his mother.
“She can have it all,” he said,
Judge Staines ordered €1,000 be given to Mrs Byrne, and €700 to the Block Project.