Man jailed after being caught with over €70k of drugs in two separate searches

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By Isabel Hayes

A man caught holding over €70,000 worth of drugs has been jailed for three years.

Derek O’Callaghan (41) was found to be storing over €44,000 worth of cocaine and ecstasy in a bedroom in his uncle’s house and over €29,000 worth of cocaine and cannabis in another home, his caravan and two cars during two garda searches in 2017 and 2018, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

The total street value of the drugs found amounted to €73,450, Detective Garda Gavin Curran told Gerardine Small BL, prosecuting.

Sentencing him today, Judge Melanie Greally said O’Callaghan’s level of involvement and the quantity of drugs found meant that he didn’t come into the small category of cases which would warrant a suspended sentence for such an offence.

The judge said she had taken into account O’Callaghan’s pleas of guilty, admissions and co-operation with the garda investigation, his particular vulnerability and poor mental health and efforts he has made to rehabilitate and break away from his former associates.

Judge Greally sentenced O’Callaghan to four years in prison but suspended the final 12 months on strict conditions including that he engage with the Probation Service for 12 months before his ultimate release from prison.

O’Callaghan of Donomore Crescent, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty to one count of possessing drugs for sale or supply at the same address on February 23, 2017 and one count of possessing drugs for sale or supply at Round Garden, Garter Lane, Saggart, Co Dublin on June 7, 2018.

He has 12 previous convictions, including one conviction for drug supply dating back to 2003. He received a suspended two-year sentence for that offence.

Det Gda Curran told the court that during the first search in 2017, gardaí forced their way into a locked bedroom in O’Callaghan’s uncle’s house after being told that was his room.

It was immediately obvious the bedroom was being used to store drugs, the court heard.

During the second search in 2018, gardaí found drugs stashed in the sitting room of the home O’Callaghan shared with his girlfriend.

He directed gardaí to where they would find more drugs in a caravan and two cars at the home.

O’Callaghan was fully cooperative when interviewed by gardaí, Det Gda Curran said.

He told gardaí that while a small amount of the drugs were for his own use, he was holding the rest for an unnamed person after incurring a drug debt.

Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, defending, said O’Callaghan was “the lowest of the low” when it came to the hierarchy of people involved in criminality.

She said O’Callaghan was storing the drugs under duress and had had “violence perpetuated upon him”.

Defence counsel said O’Callaghan had a history of mental health issues and had suffered with depression and ADHD. “This is someone who is particularly vulnerable,” she said.

Judge Melanie Greally noted that “unfortunately the people who are generally targeted are persons who are vulnerable and who are susceptible to being intimidated and pressurised”.

“Mr O’Callaghan may very well have vulnerabilities in terms of his mental health, but it doesn’t in my view come under an exceptional category,” the judge said.

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