State witness sentenced to prison for drugs possession

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

A WITNESS to one of Limerick’s brutal gangland murders has been sentenced to six months in prison for possession of cannabis and cocaine for sale or supply.

A WITNESS to one of Limerick’s brutal gangland murders has been sentenced to six months in prison for possession of cannabis and cocaine for sale or supply.

Erol Ibrahim, 24, with an address at Cluain Dara, Clonmacken, pleaded not guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply, which were found at his home four days before Christmas in 2011.

The accused claimed that the drugs, which are valued at over €400, were for his own use, and maintained that some €1,500 found in his property was the proceeds of his Christmas club savings account, and not from drug-dealing.

Garda Paul Quirke told Limerick District Court that a warrant was obtained to search his home after confidential information was received by the gardai, from a “reliable source”.

The warrant was granted on December 16, 2011, and his home was searched give days later.

A quantity of cocaine and cannabis, as well as a weighing scales and small plastic bags were found in a press in the kitchen.

Some €830 in cash - mainly in €50 notes - was found upstairs, while Ibrahim had a further €560 on him, when he was searched at Henry Street station following his arrest.

In his first interview with gardai, Ibrahim, who was 137 previous convictions, mainly for road traffic, said: “Are you trying to make me out to be a drug dealer? I’m not a drug dealer.”

“It was four days to Christmas - that’s why I had the money.” He claimed he withdrew the funds to buy his child and god-children presents, as he was due to go to Smyth’s toy store that day.

He was released without charge that night, and in subsequent interviews with gardai he remained silent, stating that he had already explained his defence.

The defendant said he has a serious drug problem, and said he kept the weighing scales to ensure that he wasn’t being “ripped off” from drug dealers.

Inspector Seamus Ruane, Henry Street garda station, described this explanation as “farcical”.

“Do the drug dealers wait on the corner for you to come back after you’ve weighed your drugs,” asked Insp Ruane during cross-examination. “It would be ridiculous not to have a weighing scales,” he replied.

In the witness stand, Ibrahim told the court: “I’ve a bad drug problem, but I’ve never sold a drug in my life. I used to smoke 4oz of weed a day”.

Asked if he “shared” his cache of drugs with anyone, he said they were “too expensive” to share with friends, and that he was just feeding his own habit. Judge Eugene O’Kelly said he was satisfied he had the drugs for the purposes of sale or supply, and imposed a six month sentence on the cocaine charge. A further four month sentence was suspended for a year on his good behaviour.