Man was caught with €370,000 worth of drugs by Gardai after failing to use indicators

CourtsBy Aoife Nic Ardghail
Jailed: The man was caught after failing to use his indicators
Jailed: The man was caught after failing to use his indicators

A Dublin man who led gardaí to a van containing over €370,000 of drugs when he failed to use the indicators on his car has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Gardaí tracked Barry Fowler (30) down to the basement of his former apartment complex after he had sped off in his BMW to evade the patrol car.

An alarm fob on Fowler's car keys pointed officers to a nearby transit van, which was packed with over €250,727 of cannabis, €103,404 of cocaine and €8,827 of heroin.

Gardaí found a further €5,672 of amphetamines and €1,522 of cannabis resin in the van, along with €2,000 of cannabis under the BMW's bonnet.

Fowler, of The Crescent, Millbrook Lawns, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing the drugs for sale or supply at Hunters Hall, Hunterswood, Ballycullen on June 26, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a sawn-off shotgun and 9mm bullets on the same date and place.

The father-of-one has previous convictions for road traffic matters, common assault and a three year sentence for dangerous driving causing death from 2005.

Fowler told gardaí he had been forced to hold the drugs, shotgun, ammunition and €118,000 cash found in a safe in his bathroom to offset a €60,000 drug debt.

Garda Peter Collins said Fowler took responsibility for the drugs tick lists found in his home and the van.

The garda said that Fowler had been in custody since April this year for breaching bail conditions, when he was arrested at Shannon Airport on his return from Alicante.

Gda Collins told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that Fowler said he had no bank accounts and that he had been claiming Job Seekers Allowance at the time of his arrest.

Gda Collins agreed with Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC, defending, that his client's guilty plea was valuable as it would have been difficult to prosecute the case.

He further agreed that Fowler had fully co-operated with the investigation.

Mr O Lideadha submitted to Judge Martin Nolan that his client became depressed and got involved with drugs after the dangerous driving causing death offence.

Counsel gave the judge written testimonials on behalf of his client, including a letter from Fr Peter McVerry of the Peter McVerry Trust.

Mr O Lideadha later apologised for the inclusion of this letter after a brief court adjournment, when Mr Heneghan confirmed that Fr McVerry had no knowledge of the document.

Mr O Lideadha submitted to Judge Nolan that the letter had been handed in “in good faith.”

Judge Nolan, in sentencing Fowler, noted that he was “no novice” with the criminal justice system and that he had been “seriously involved in this drug dealing operation.”

He imposed a seven and a half year sentence for the drugs possession and four years for the firearms offence to run concurrently.