Messages asking 'any white stuff' and saying 'hoping to get something on tick' were received on the phone of a man who claimed he was simply transporting almost €1,000 worth of drugs to clear a drug debt, Dundalk District Court heard last week.
Andrew Cooper (28) of Castle Heights, Castletown Road, Dundalk, who had no previous convictions, had admitted possessing benzocaine in circumstances giving rise to the inference that it was connected to a drug trafficking offence, and unlawful possession of cocaine and having the drug for sale or supply at Castle Road, Dundalk, on May 14th last year.
The court had previously heard how Mr. Cooper was 'extremely nervous' when the guards signaled the Volkswagen Jetta he was driving to stop. Three separate quantities of cocaine were found, two in the boot concealed in a gift bag in a baby’s buggy. They had a total estimated street value of €999.
White plastic gloves and £6,500 sterling were discovered hidden in the glove compartment when the car was searched. The Defence barrister said his client had been engaging with his GP and urged the court to give him a chance.
He had turned to the use of illicit substances in the past and became chronically addicted, accumulating a significant debt. However, the barrister stressed that on the date in question, he was transporting drugs to write off a portion of this debt.
The case was put back to investigate the claim and the court heard last Wednesday that a man who was also in the car, and his family were known to be involved in the sale or supply of drugs and when Mr. Cooper's iPhone was analysed messages on Whats App and Facebook were recovered.
One asked 'Have you half cash'. Others said 'Hoping to get something on tick', 'Could I get three and a half on tick' and 'Any white stuff'.
Judge John Brennan had previously put back the case so Mr Cooper's suitability to be dealt with by the drug treatment court could be assessed but the investigating garda indicated it was too serious a matter for the drug court.
The Defence barrister told Judge Eirinn McKiernan that his client felt he had no option but to take ownership of the drugs and argued his job was to transport the drugs, but the judge replied “How do explain the messages on the phone.” He said the messages had been sent - but the court heard they had been received.
Judge McKiernan also noted a drug addiction was not suggested in the Probation report and said it was clear the defendant was involved in the sale and supply of drugs.
The judge imposed a four month sentence for that offence and convicted him of driving without insurance, but exercised her discretion and did not impose a driving ban as the court heard he works at the Intel site in Kildare and a letter from his employer confirming at least five years work being available for him there was handed into the court.
An appeal was subsequently lodged.
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