A 60-year-old Portarlington man who told gardaí he had been forced to store over €76,000 of cannabis after he accidentally damaged other packages of drugs by dumping pond water into a drain, has been given a six-year prison sentence with the final three years suspended.
Gerard Kinsella of 37 Ballymorris Manor, Portarlington, was charged with having drugs for sale or supply contrary to section 15a of the misuse of drugs act, at his home address on June 19, 2017.
Sgt Derek Barnett gave evidence that the gardaí searched the accused’s home, finding two small quantities of a green substance on the premises. As the search progressed, the gardaí located a pathway outside leading to waste ground and their suspicions were aroused.
A surveillance operation of the waste ground was set up and at 10.30pm that evening the gardaí observed the accused leaving his house with his dog and walking along the pathway, to where packages were concealed. As he took the packages the gardaí made their presence known and he was arrested.
The total weight of the cannabis seized was just under 4kg, with an estimated value of €76,400.
Sgt Barnett told the court the accused said he was given the drugs to store, following an incident in which he had dumped pond water into a drain in which something was being stored.
The accused claimed he had been approached by a man who told him he had damaged packages by dumping the water in the drain and the accused now had to store the packages himself.
The accused had previous convictions for sale or supply of drugs, as well as a drug cultivation charge.
Sgt Barnett said the accused was a drug user who used a lot of cannabis and relied on the drug. He said the accused had experienced a number of years of drug abuse.
Defence barrister for the accused, Mr Damien Colgan said the accused, a father of grown children and a grandfather, took cannabis on a daily basis for his arthritis.
He said that when the gardaí revealed their presence behind the house the accused dropped to his knees and said, “Jesus, look it’s there… I put it there… I’m only holding it for someone else. I owe €50,000.
Defence said the accused developed difficulties with drugs in his teenage years and is now on 100ml of methadone.
He said the accused’s chronic drug addiction was an ongoing issue.
In sentencing, Judge Keenan Johnson said the quantity of drugs was an aggravating factor, as was the fact that the accused had been assessed by the probation services at a high risk of reoffending.
Judge Johnson also said the negative impact that the drugs could have caused to society had they been released on to the drugs market was a further aggravating factor.
Mitigating factors considered by the court were the accused’s guilty plea, his cooperation with gardaí, his health issues and his age.
The judge imposed a six-year prison sentence, with the final three years suspended for a period of seven years on the following conditions: the accused enter into a peace bond of €500 to keep the peace for seven years; he submits himself to probation service supervision for 12 months post release; he engages in drug counselling and becomes drug free; and he provides urinalysis.