Judge praises garda for his “good police work” as he jails man on drugs offence
A judge has praised a garda for his “good police work” in stopping a first time offender and taking a drug dealer out of circulation.
Judge Patrick McCartan made the comments during the sentence hearing of Sean Bird (25) who was caught with €34,000 worth of heroin after Garda Fran Glennon spotted a known drug dealer delivering a package to his home.
“Gda Glennon, by reason of very good police work, stopped this young man in his tracks before he got more seriously involved, took out a significant amount of heroin out of circulation and closed down at least one drug dealer in the Tallaght area,” Judge McCartan said.
Bird of Ard Mor Lawn, Fortunestown, Tallaght, Dublin was sentenced today at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five years in prison with the final three years suspended on strict conditions.
“I have to send a message to all the Sean Birds of this world that if they lend themselves to the assistance of drug trafficking they must be dealt with in a significant way by the court,” Judge McCartan.
He acknowledged that it would be difficult for Bird to cope with a prison sentence, considering evidence that he had mental health issues. He had heard evidence from Bird's mother that she had previously sought psychiatric assistance for her son.
He said he was offering considerable leniency to Bird because of his supportive family and in the hope that he would have work when he finished his sentence. He said he was also taking into account a large amount of testimonials before the court.
Gda Glennon told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting that he was suspicious of activities going on at Bird's home and secured a warrant to search it.
Bird was not at home when the heroin was found in his bedroom but came to Tallaght Garda Station the following day. He claimed he had been holding the drugs for somebody else.
Gda Glennon confirmed that Bird was not on the garda radar at the time and had no previous convictions.
Despite his immediate admissions to gardaí Bird denied the charge and the case was sent forward for trial.
On the second day of that trial he changed his plea to guilty and was remanded in custody pending sentence last Monday. He pleaded guilty to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at his home on December 18, 2014.
Judge McCartan said the “one fact screaming out in this case” was that this was the first time Bird broke the law.
The judge acknowledged that the fact Bird was previously of good character made him an ideal candidate for the job he took on.
“He was not on the garda radar and had a history of drug abuse. It is sinister here because it explains how he got involved, out and about looking for drugs including heroin,” Judge McCartan said.
He also noted that despite defence counsel Damien Colgan SC, submitting to the court that Bird abused only cannabis at the time of his arrest, a report before the court indicated that he had also taken both heroin and cocaine.
Judge McCartan adjourned the case on Monday having heard evidence.
He told Mr McCormack he was looking for submissions from the Direction of Public Prosecution on how to deal with the case considering Bird's late guilty plea and the fact that the law allowed for a reduction to the presumptive minimum sentence of ten years on a plea of guilty.
The judge said yesterday that he was “dismayed” to hear from counsel that the position of the DPP was that it was a matter for the court in how to deal with it.
“It is a succinct legal issue to be considered by the court....given that the accused held over his guilty plea until the second day of the trial,” Judge McCartan said.
Judge McCartan said that he had particular difficulty with Bird's position considering the drugs were found in his bedroom in his house.
“He says in interview yes, I am responsible, but then when he is faced with trial doesn't stand by his original position,” the judge continued before he added that although it was Bird's entitlement to fight the case it weakened the regard the court could have to his guilty plea.