A MAN who admitted storing large quantities of illicit drugs in the garage of his home has been warned he faces a lengthy prison sentence if he commits any criminal offence in the next five years.
Shaun Sparling, 28, of Rath, Murroe had pleaded guilty to possession of a significant quantity of cannabis resin for the purpose of sale or supply.
The drugs, with an estimated street value of €176,000, were seized during a garda operation on July 7, 2018.
While noting the large quantity drugs, Judge Tom O’Donnell accepted there was “real and significant” duress in the case and that Mr Sparling did not benefit financially.
During a sentencing hearing, Detective Garda Marie Haugh of the divisional drugs unit told Limerick Circuit Court the defendant’s home was searched after she received information from a “secret and sensitive source”.
She said almost 9kgs of cannabis, in 17 vacuum-packed plastic bags or pillows, was located in an upstairs section of the garage which is detached from the house.
There were a number of other people in the property at the time but Mr Sparling – a father-of-four- made admissions and took responsibility for the drugs.
The detective told John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, the defendant had accumulated a drug debt and that he had agreed to store and distribute the drugs to reduce the debt.
She said Mr Sparling, who owed around €5,000, became emotional following his arrest.
He told gardai he had initially attempted to hand back the cannabis but was told by the owners “they would find his father and give him a hiding” if he did not cooperate.
Judge O’Donnell was told large quantities of the drug had been delivered to the house and that Mr Sparling was storing them and would “measure out” smaller quantities for people who subsequently turned up at his home “by arrangement.”
Imposing sentence the judge accepted the defendant has “turned his life around” since and that he is now working full time.
Imposing five-year prison sentence, which was suspended in full, the judge told Mr Sparling he was being given a substantial chance.
“What you did was wrong, it is a criminal offence. You were within a whisker of going away for a very long time,” he said.