A Portarlington man caught with €5,000 worth of heroin has been told he may get a part-suspended sentence if he continues seeking treatment for his drug addiction.
At Portlaoise Circuit Court, John Egan (38), Cushina, Portarlington, was charged with having drugs for sale or supply, at Canal Road, Portarlington.
Sgt Derek Barnett gave evidence that on September 9, 2018, he observed the accused putting his hood up as he made his way to a vehicle parked up. The accused leaned in the passenger side and removed a white plastic bag from his pocket. The car drove off and the accused attempted to tie a knot in the bag. The gardaí approached him and he threw the bag on the ground, but when questioned he denied throwing anything away.
The bag was recovered and inside were 19 packets of a brown substance. The accused was arrested and searched and in his back pocket was found a large lump of brown substance, which he claimed he had forgotten was there.
In interview, he told gardaí that he had a bad heroin habit and the drug was for his own use. He denied selling drugs and denied meeting the occupants of the car on the day.
His phone was seized and a number of messages found, including one from that day in which someone was “looking for a Q”.
Sgt Barnett confirmed that this related to a quarter of heroin.
The sergeant said that 35.9g of diamorphine was seized by the gardaí, with a total value of €5,000.
The accused had a number of previous convictions, around 50 in total, including two for drugs.
He was in custody since February 4 last year.
Defence barrister, Ms Louise Troy said the accused had a long-standing drug addiction.
Sgt Barnett replied that the accused had certainly been dabbling in the drugs scene for a number of years.
“He said that he ‘didn’t touch the product’, but when I stopped him he was heavy on heroin,” said Det Barnett.
Ms Troy told the court that the accused had suffered from lifelong mental health issues, as his drug addiction has blighted his life.
She said he was currently under the care of mental health officials and there had been huge improvements in his behaviour.
Judge Keenan Johnson said that a significant custodial sentence was unavoidable in the matter, however he noted that the accused had been diagnosed with schizophrenic disorder and was currently doing well in custody, so if he were to be moved from Cloverhill Prison it could be disastrous for him.
Judge Johnson adjourned the matter to March 20 for the accused to continue receiving treatment. He said he would impose a four-year sentence, backdated to the date the accused went into custody, and suspend a portion of this on certain conditions.
The accused was directed to enter into a peace bond; he must engage with the probation services and engage with mental health services and counselling; he must remain drug and alcohol free; and he must complete residential treatment for his drug addiction and have a bed secured.
“I have no time for people who engage in the sale or supply of heroin because of the harm it causes,” said Judge Johnson.