Convicted dealer had ‘no sinister motive’ for phone in cell

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

'Model prisoner': Alan McGrath from Janesboro, who was bound to the peace for two years after pleading guilty at Limerick District Court to possession of a mobile phone at his cell in Limerick Prison in July 2012
A MAN who was caught with a mobile phone in his prison cell did not have the device for drug dealing, Judge Eugene O’Kelly has been assured.

A MAN who was caught with a mobile phone in his prison cell did not have the device for drug dealing, Judge Eugene O’Kelly has been assured.

Alan McGrath, 38, of Colbert Avenue, Janesboro, is serving a three-year sentence in Limerick Prison for possession of cannabis for sale or supply in August 2011.

McGrath pleaded guilty at Limerick District Court to possession of the phone at the prison on July 9, 2012.

Judge O’Kelly expressed concern over whether McGrath may have had the phone “to continue drug dealing activity”. But he was assured by Sgt Donal Cronin that his reason for having it was “relatively benign” and related to “a family problem he was having on the outside at the time”.

Darrach McCarthy, solicitor, said the phone did not even have a SIM card. But he was accepting the charge as the offence related to possession of any part of a mobile phone in prison.

Sgt Cronin outlined that during a search of a cell at Mulgrave Street, a Samsung mobile phone had been found. McGrath, who was in occupancy of the cell, had made “full and frank admissions” when detained by gardai.

“He is a model prisoner other than this,” Mr McCarthy said, telling the judge that McGrath worked in the prison kitchen.

With about nine months left to serve in his sentence, arrangements were being made “to transfer him to a less secure prison and that is a reflection of how good a prisoner he is”.

Judge O’Kelly said that in circumstances where the state accepted there were no “sinister” motives behind possession of the phone, he was happy to have McGrath bound to the peace for two years subject to a €500 bond and on condition he remain of good behaviour for that period. “Had there been any suggestion that this phone was for any other forms of activity I would be extending the sentence,” the judge said.