A handyman who claimed he was approached in a dole queue and asked to hold over €20,000 worth of heroin has walked free from court with a suspended sentence.
Colm Carroll (54) formerly of Kilmainham Bank, Emmet Rd, Inchicore, Dublin pleaded guilty to possessing heroin for sale or supply at that address on November 16 last.
Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Martin Nolan said he accepted Carroll’s explanation about a man coming up to him in the post office and pressuring him.
The judge said Carroll was “not an organised man” and was at the lower end of culpability in terms of the drug-dealing operation. He noted that while Carroll himself had become addicted to heroin initially as pain relief for serious burns, he had since dealt with his addiction.
“Heroin is a serious painkiller and a very good painkiller; the problem is, it’s very addictive,” said Judge Nolan, imposing a three year sentence which he suspended in full.
Garda Richard Mostyn told prosecuting counsel Lisa Dempsey BL that gardaí searched Carroll’s apartment last November, on foot of information received.
Carroll told gardaí there was heroin in the safe and pointed them towards the keys. He also guided them towards a digital scales, tinfoil and a lightbulb in a kitchen press which was unscrewed and found to contain suspected heroin.
Carroll told gardaí there was about €1,000 worth of heroin in the lightbulb which was for his personal use.
Gardaí discovered several plastic bags in the safe which were analysed and found to contain over 144 grammes of heroin at a market value of €140 per gramme. Garda Mostyn said the total amount of heroin recovered was €20,175.
Carroll himself was searched and gardaí found the sum of €5,950 in fifty- euro notes in his pockets, which he claimed came from the recent sale of his car. Carroll was arrested and said a man had come up to him in the dole queue at the post office and had asked him to hold the heroin, adding, “You don’t want to say no to this man”.
“They picked me out in the queue, they were watching me. I remember thinking they were marking me,” he told gardaí.
He said he thought he was in danger and that he was relieved when the gardaí came as he no longer had to worry about what was in the apartment.
Carroll told gardaí that the man rang him a few days later and said they would come to his apartment the next week to take the drugs and that he’d be “sorted”. Carroll said he had received no payment. Carroll said he planned to change his post office so he wouldn’t bump into the man again.
He has six previous minor convictions dating from between 1979 and 1991, including road traffic offences, larceny and malicious damage.
Judge Nolan said the previous offences were too old to be of relevance.
Garda Mostyn agreed with Garnett Orange SC, defending, that the accused man had been extremely cooperative, calm and respectful, and that he was a “quiet man, who lived quietly”.
The court heard he had worked as a handyman.
He also agreed that Carroll had been badly burnt in a house fire in 2004 and when he was no longer on prescribed pain relief, he turned to heroin to relieve the pain and help him sleep.
“I didn’t know I’d get strung out on it,” Carroll told gardaí.
Garda Mostyn said when Carroll was asked why he was keeping almost €6,000 from a car sale on his person months after the sale, he said “cos it’s mine,” and added, “the taxman”.
Mr Orange said his client had left the apartment when asked and was currently “nearly homeless” and sleeping on a friend’s couch in a very strict, no-drink-or-drugs household.
Judge Nolan ruled that €3,000 of the cash be forfeited by way of punishment, with the remainder of €2,950 to be returned to Carroll.
“He might need the rent,” said the judge.
“Thank you very much, your honour,” said Carroll as he left court.