A FATHER of two has been sentenced to three years in prison after he began selling cannabis to repay a loan to a “sinister person” when he fell on hard times, Limerick Circuit Court has hard.
Alan McGrath, 38, of Colbert Avenue, Janesboro, had pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis for sale or supply at his home and at Roxboro Road on August 31, 2011. He also admitted possession of an Italian-made Beretta pistol in suspicious circumstances, which was seized at his home that night.
Detective Garda Declan O’Halloran, drugs unit at Roxboro Road station, said McGrath had a total of €1,866 worth of cannabis in his car and at his home, as well as €1,000 in cash in €50 notes, which was the proceeds of drug-dealing. A pistol and gloves were found above a cupboard in the kitchen, with a further black refuse sack containing cannabis under a fish-tank. Information gleaned from two mobile phones found in his car showed numerous text messages from people asking “can I get a bag off you?”
He admitted he had been dealing drugs for four months, but the court accepted he wasn’t the owner of the drugs. He said he was holding the gun for another person and there was no suggestion, gardai said, that he’d use it himself.
Barrister Pat Wimms said the unemployed man had found himself in desperate financial circumstances and borrowed €2,000. He was to pay back €3,500 but couldn’t make the repayments and was put “in an impossible position”.
The court heard the defendant has a number of previous convictions for assault causing harm, road traffic offences and public order. Judge Carroll Moran backdated a three-year sentence to last October when McGrath went in to custody voluntarily as he believed “custody was the safest place for him”. Judge Moran said while the quantity of drugs in this case was relatively small, that “was not the salient point”. The destruction of the drugs and gun was ordered by the prosecution, and the €1,000 seized will be forfeited to the State.