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04 Oct 2022

Cocaine, cannabis and cash seized in garda raid at Limerick halting site

Cocaine, cannabis and cash seized in garda raid at Limerick halting site

GARDAI discovered cannabis, cocaine and cash when they searched a halting site in the city, Limerick Circuit Court heard.

Martin Hartnett, aged 37, of New Crescent Halting Site, Childers Road, Limerick city pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of drugs for sale or supply.

Prosecuting barrister, John O'Sullivan, instructed by state solicitor Padraig Mawe, said gardai executed a search warrant on December 14, 2018.

“They entered the caravan where the accused, his wife and four children live. During the course of a search they found 26.9 grammes of cannabis in a red tin in a bedroom; 44 grammes of cocaine and 7.6 grammes of cannabis in a hooded top,” said Mr O’Sullivan, who outlined to the court that gardai then found cannabis valued at €8,376 in waste ground on the halting site.

Cash to the value of €7,095 was also uncovered which Mr O’Sullivan said was “as a result of criminal activity namely drug dealing”. There has been no application to the State for the return of the money, confirmed the investigating officer, Garda Richie Finan.

Mr O’Sullivan said Mr Hartnett had a €50 a day cannabis addiction and a €2,000 drug debt.

In garda interviews he said the drugs found in the caravan were “largely for his own use”.

“He said he sold some to friends and family to support his drug habit. In relation to the cash he said his wife was saving for Christmas. He is unemployed and is in receipt of social welfare. It is not expected that he would have €7,095 in cash,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

Garda Finan agreed. Mr Hartnett has 21 previous convictions including for possession of drugs, assault, trespass, production of an article, burglary, theft and violent disorder.

Mr O’Sullivan said when gardai interviewed Mr Hartnett he denied any knowledge of the drugs found in waste ground.

“A DNA sample was taken from the handles of the black bag which matched Mr Hartnett. He said he had taken possession of it two hours before and he put it in a shed. He said he received €200 to mind it,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“Yes,” said Garda Finan.

Yvonne Quinn BL, who represented Mr Hartnett, put it to Garda Finan that her client was holding the drugs found on waste ground. “I would accept that, yes,” said Garda Finan.

Ms Quinn said Mr Hartnett was not the person involved in the sale or the supply of the drugs - that they belonged to somebody else? “Yes,” said Garda Finan.

Ms Quinn said her client has had “serious drugs issues and poor mental health”.

“He has pleaded guilty. He was in possession of the drugs for a short period of time. He has not come to garda attention since 2018. He is living in a stable environment. He and his wife have four young children and are expecting another child. He has three strong women in his life - wife, mother and grandmother who help him with his daily struggles,” said Ms Quinn.

Judge Tom O’Donnell said he has said “time and time again if you are going to get involved in this type of enterprise you will face the consequences”.

“It was not an insubstantial amount. References were made to his family but drugs distributed around the caravan don’t help that context. His previous convictions are various and not helpful,” said Judge O’Donnell.

The mitigating factors were Mr Hartnett’s pleas to both matters and that he hasn’t been in trouble for a number of years, said the judge.

Judge O’Donnell imposed three year jail sentences on Mr Hartnett on each of the charges to be served concurrently. The last 18 months were suspended.

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