A MOTHER-of-two tried to smuggle a package of heroin to a prisoner in Newcastle West courthouse after drug dealers threatened to kill her partner over unpaid debts.
Eileen Fitzgerald, aged 29, with addresses at Whitethorn Drive, Caherdavin and Ballina, Tipperary pleaded guilty to possession of drugs for sale or supply after she was caught giving €75 worth of heroin and €360 worth of cannabis to a man in custody at Newcastle West courthouse on April 26, 2012.
Fitzgerald, who is a heroin addict, told a sitting of Newcastle West court this Tuesday that she only attempted the drugs drop after being warned by dealers that her partner “would be cut up” if she did not work off their unpaid drug debts.
Supt Helen Deely told the court that on the date of the offence Detective Garda Jerry O’Sullivan saw Fitzgerald “trying to pass €360 worth of cannabis resin and €75 of heroin to a prisoner in custody”. The package, which was immediately confiscated, contained two blocks of cannabis wrapped in cling film, with the heroin concealed in the middle.
Fitzgerald left the scene and was being driven away by a third party when their vehicle was stopped by Garda Alan O’Donnell.
Supt Deely said that after smelling cannabis from the car, Garda O’Donnell searched the vehicle and found cannabis worth €200 and €50 worth of heroin in a handbag. Fitzgerald said that the drugs, which were wrapped in a similar way to the first package, were hers.
The accused later attended Newcastle West garda station and made full admissions, but “refused to tell gardai where the drugs came from”, Supt Deely said.
Solicitor Jenny Fitzgibbon, defending, said that Fitzgerald “has had a heroin addiction for the past year-and-a-half”, a habit that “escalated” when her partner and the father of her two children was sent to prison.
Ms Fitzgibbon said that the couple had accumulated “drug debts”, which led to “pressure from the people she owed the drug debts to”.
As a result, Fitzgerald was contacted by a third party and was told “her partner would be cut up unless she provided drugs to a person she didn’t know”. Fitzgerald was told that she would be able to identify the person to give the drugs to in court by the clothes they were wearing. Ms Fitzgibbon said that the accused “was put under considerable pressure”.
The court heard that Fitzgerald has twelve previous convictions, including four for possession of drugs dating back to 2011.
When asked by Judge Mary Larkin if Fitzgerald made a complaint about being threatened to the gardai, Ms Fitzgibbon said that she did not out of “concerns for her safety”. Fitzgerald is on a methadone programme, Ms Fitzgibbon added. The court heard that the accused’s two children are in the custody of her partner’s mother, as part of an arrangement with the HSE.
Judge Larkin sentenced Fitzgerald to a total of six months in prison.