'Up to his neck' in drug dealing

Polish national jailed for having over €15,000 of drugs for sale or supply

'Up to his neck' in drug dealing

A Polish national has been sentenced to five years in jail, with a portion suspended, for having over €15,000 of drugs for sale or supply in Portlaoise.

“He was engaged up to his neck in the sale and supply of drugs in the Portlaoise area,” said Judge Keenan Johnson of Michal Malecki (41), with an address listed at Hawthorn Drive, Portlaoise.

At Portlaoise Circuit Court, Sgt Brian Farrell gave evidence, along with State barrister, Mr Will Fennelly, that as part of an operation into drug dealing in the Portlaoise area, the gardaí searched a house at Hawthorn Drive on May 18, 2017.

They discovered an Aldi bag containing cannabis herb and a cardboard box with deal bags, as well as two sets of weighing scales and a plastic cup containing cannabis herb.

Behind the cylinder in the hot press was located a vacuum packed bag containing half a kilo of cannabis herb, and the gardaí also found crystal meth.

In the bedroom was located a cash register tray containing €2,820 in cash and a tick list.

In total there were 670.8g of cannabis to a value of €13,400, and 30.16g of crystal meth worth €1,825.

The total value of drugs found was €15,225.

In interview, the accused told gardaí he was selling the drugs to friends, but Sgt Farrell told the court that the gardaí knew he was selling to the wider area.

Sgt Farrell said the accused claimed he owed money, which was why he was selling.

Sgt Farrell said that the accused, a Polish national living in Ireland for six or seven months at the time, had never claimed social welfare here and had never worked.

The accused had two previous convictions.

The court heard that he was initially released on bail on these charges, but following another garda operation he was remanded in custody and his bail was revoked.

Defence for the accused said that Malecki had feared for his safety and had been afraid to tell gardaí where the drugs came from.

Defence said the accused was a heavy user of cannabis himself, to which Sgt Farrell replied that the accused was using 20g of the drug a week.

Defence said that the accused had engaged with the criminal justice system fully, although he had been “undoubtedly playing a role in the scourge of drugs in this area”.

In sentencing, Judge Johnson said the accused had been “engaged up to his neck in the sale and supply of drugs in the Portlaoise area”.

“This activity is all too prevalent in the Portlaoise area and is contributing to crime,” said the judge.

He said drugs cause “a criminal feeding frenzy” and the accused had enabled this type of unruly behaviour to take place.

The judge said that crystal meth was a very corrosive, damaging drug and the accused had also had a bulk of cannabis, which was “a serious plague and scourge on society”.

Judge Johnson also noted that the accused’s partner, with whom he lived, was a nurse in a local nursing home and remarked he was amazed that a nurse would allow this sort of activity to go on in her home.

In mitigation, Judge Johnson said that the accused has a daughter and his incarceration in prison will impact on his relationship on her.

The fact that the accused is a foreign national was also considered in mitigation, as this would make his incarceration more difficult.

For the sale or supply of cannabis, Judge Johnson imposed a five year sentence, with the final two years suspended for seven years on condition the accused enter into a peace bond, and remain alcohol and drug free for seven years.

The other charge was taken into consideration.

Judge Johnson also directed that the €2,820 seized go to the local Merchants Quay.