Man “prevailed upon” to store drugs in his home is jailed

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By Brion Hoban

A man who was caught in possession of over €80,000 of cocaine along with drug dealing paraphernalia has been jailed for three years.

Justine Byrne (50) was “prevailed upon” to allow his premises to be used to store the drugs after he had gotten into debt with certain people.

Byrne of Clarinda Park East, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of cocaine and heroin for sale or supply at his address in Dublin on September 5, 2020. He has one previous conviction for assault.

Garda Shane McGrath told Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, gardaí searched the accused man’s home and that Byrne was the only person present during the search.

Gda McGrath said that during the search, gardaí found quantities of both cocaine and heroin.

Gardaí also discovered a quantity of a cutting agent, a hydraulic press, weighing scales and packages used for the sale or supply of drugs.

The total value of the cocaine was €82,090, while the total value of the heroin was €2,300.

The court heard Byrne has not come to any garda attention since this offence.

Gda McGrath agreed with Paul Carroll SC, defending, that his client made admissions in interview that he had gotten into debt with people and was asked to allow his premises to be used in this way.

Mr Carroll said there was “an element” of some cocaine abuse. He said his client was in debt and was “prevailed upon” to use his premises.

Counsel said that “as bad as it was, as wrong as it was, as offensive to society as it was,” it seems his client’s actions were very much out of character going by his past and what has happened since. He asked the court to be as lenient as possible.

Judge Martin Nolan said it seems Byrne was holding the drugs and “probably” cutting up the drugs for onwards distribution.

Judge Nolan said he accepts that within this drug dealing operation, the accused man was at the lowest level. He said that obviously for this operation to be “efficient”, it needs people like him holding and cutting drugs.

He said a non-custodial sentence should only be considered for offences of this kind in exceptional cases. He said that Byrne has very good mitigation, but the case is not in the exceptional category and he will have to suffer a custodial term.

Judge Nolan sentenced Byrne to three years imprisonment.

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