Jury set to deliberate its verdict as Limerick heroin trial draws to a close

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

THE jury is expected to retire later today in the trial of a Moyross man who is accused of posession of almost €145,000 worth on heroin on the outskirts of the city.

THE jury is expected to retire later today in the trial of a Moyross man who is accused of posession of almost €145,000 worth on heroin on the outskirts of the city.

John McCarthy, 41, of Cliona Park, Moyross has pleaded not guilty to possessing the drug for sale or supply at Castle Park, Ballygrennan, on October 15, 2010.

It is the state case the McCarthy was one of three men who were observed during a garda surveillence operation entering a drugs factory at an area known as the Four Walls.

McCarthy was arrested a number of hours after the garda operation, and maintained he was checking on his horses in a field nearby, after he was observed on CCTV footage.

Brian McCartney QC, representing McCarthy, urged the jury in his closing arguments to adopt caution when they begin their deliberations, claiming the evidence is “dangerously weak” and visual identification can be “notoriously unreliable”.

Mr McCartney told the jury his client’s reputation is not on trial, and he urged them not to be tainted by any suspicion or bias.

It is the prosecution’s case that the defendant fled from the scene, but Mr McCartney questioned why “healthy gardai did not pursue a 20 stone man who was on medication at the time.” He claimed the evidence of at least one garda was “unbelievable and unreliable”.

He pointed out that one garda did not have a watch at the scene to accurately record the sequence of events, and instead was relying on the time on his mobile phone, which was an hour slow, while another garda relied on “approximate” times.

“That’s just a stupid lie to cover up what is clearly a conspiracy between two officers to get the time right,” claimed Mr McCartney.

He highlighted to the jury that a hoodie found at the scene, allegedly left behind by his client, was later forensically linked to another person at the scene.

“One garda said he only saw him for a split second and couldn’t identify one single feature. Four other officers never saw him at all. Is that credible? Can you rely on this?”

John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, said it is the state case that McCarthy was one of “a trio” at the scene, but he managed to flee and left his phone there.

While a phone was found at the scene, the defendant claimed he gave it to another man earlier that morning. However, the prosecution pointed out that 90% of the DNA on the phone could be attributed to the defendant. Mr O’Sullivan said any claims that the phone was “contaminated” at the scene were absurd, and represented “unimpeachable evidence.”

Mr O’Sullivan said the defendant “realised he was cornered” when the DNA evidence was put to him during garda interviews. “He came up with the explanation that he had given the phone to an 18 year-old,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan told the jury the prosecution case is supported by “independent and reliable evidence”, pointing to the scratches the defendant allegedly received when he ran through undergrowth away from the scene where drugs were being weighed and bagged.

In addition, he claimed the route he took away from the scene was that of someone familiar with the area.

The jury of six women and six men is due to retire to begin their deliberations later this morning.