A COUNTY Limerick man who admitted hiding significant quantities of cannabis in a disused cattle trough on a rural farm has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment.
Gerry Gallagher, aged 28, of Glenview Drive, Hospital pleaded guilty to possession of almost 2kgs of the drugs at Portbeg, Hospital on September 28, 2012.
During a sentencing hearing, Limerick Circuit Court was told Gallagher was forced to store the drugs, worth around €39,000, in order to pay off a debt he owed to a “dangerous man” .
Detective Garda David McGrath of the divisional drugs unit, said the defendant came to the attention of gardai during a wider surveillance operation targeting the distribution of cannabis across the region.
He said gardai subsequently searched the home of the defendant’s partner where they found a cardboard box which was labelled as containing a “Hurricane” brand electrical fan.
Det Garda McGrath said a number of similar boxes which were recovered at other locations during the wider investigation were all found to have contained cannabis.
The court was told that during a follow-up search, gardai found a significant amount of cannabis concealed in a disused cattle trough which was hidden under galvanised sheeting and debris.
Following his arrest, the defendant was questioned over the course of two days.
While he initially denied knowing what was in the box he later made “full and frank” admissions.
Gallagher told gardai he owed a drug and gambling debt and that he was “in fear” of the man to whom he owed the money.
Michael Collins BL, instructed by State Solicitor Aidan Judge, told the court the defendant has three previous convictions for minor drug related offences, and that he was previously a drug user.
Judge Tom O’Donnell was told that Gallagher has since paid off his drug debt, and that he made no financial gain from storing the drugs.
John Phelan SC, defending, said his client, who suffers from epilepsy, had collected the drugs “at the behest someone else” and that he was storing them awaiting further instructions.
Imposing sentence, Judge O’Donnell said it was a “classic scenario of a small-time user getting involved in money trouble and being asked to do things to pay off the debt.”
He imposed a three year prison sentence, suspending the final 18 months for three years.