Limerick Circuit Court
A MAN who was caught transporting almost €60,000 worth of cannabis in Limerick told gardai he had intended selling the drugs to clear a €10,000 debt he owed.
Patrick Foley, aged 28, who has an address at Brookville Avenue, Tipperary Town has pleaded guilty to possession of around 3kgs of the drugs for the purpose of sale or supply at Ballysimon Road on January 6, 2016.
During a sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Martin McCarthy of the divisional drugs unit said the drugs were recovered when a vehicle was stopped and searched at around 11.10am around two miles outside the city.
He told Limerick Circuit Court there was a “notable smell” emanating from the boot of the van which was travelling outbound when stopped and that the cannabis was subsequently found concealed inside a spare tyre which had been slit.
The drugs, he added, had a street value at the time of more than €59,000.
While Foley was not the registered owner of the vehicle, he admitted travelling by bus to Limerick earlier in the day to collect the van knowing there were drugs hidden inside.
Detective Garda McCarthy said the defendant told gardai, during interview, that he had incurred a debt relating to his cocaine use and that it was his idea to sell the cannabis in an effort to clear that debt.
“He was hoping to clear the debt fully,” he said adding he had received the cannabis “on tick” from another man who he did not identify.
Tom McGowan BL, instructed by solicitor Philip English, said his client cooperated with gardai and made “full and frank admissions” following his arrest.
He said the father-of-two, who has no great wealth, had developed a severe drug addiction following the death of his father a number of months before he was caught.
He told the court his client suffers from severe learning difficulties and that his father was his mentor when he was growing up.
“Everything was going swimmingly well. It (his father’s death) had an absolutely catastrophic effect on him and he turned to drink and drugs,” he said.
He submitted Foley was a “pawn in this operation” and that he would have been under pressure to drive the van from others higher up the chain.
“He couldn’t find any way out of his situation,” he said.
Judge Tom O’Donnell was told the defendant is remorseful and that he has addressed his issues since being caught.
He attended a residential rehabilitation centre for six months and he continues to engage with various services.
“It was a bad road he went down but he has turned it around and he is doing his best,” said Mr McGowan who added that his client is back working.
Judge Tom O’Donnell adjourned sentencing to February, Judge O’Donnell said he would need time to consider the contents of probation report which was submitted to the court.
Because of the value of the drugs seized, a prescriptive minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment applies unless the judge is of the view that such a sentence would be unjust given the specific and exceptional circumstances of the case.