'Small fish' caught with €2.8million worth of drugs in Tallaght

Cocaine block (Stock image)
Cocaine block (Stock image)

A man caught with over €2.8 million worth of cocaine and heroin in his possession was a "small fish" in the drugs operation and had no idea how much the drugs were worth, a court has heard.

Joseph Hickey (42) with an address at Rory O'Connor House, Dublin pleaded guilty to possessing drugs with a value of over €13,000 for sale or supply at Tallaght on October 28, 2015.

Garda Stephen Connor told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today that gardai were carrying out an undercover surveillance operation at a carpark on Greenhills Road, Tallaght on the day in question when Hickey was seen arriving in a grey Fiat car.

He parked beside a co-accused man and the pair stood talking for about 20 minutes before they took two bags out of the co-accused's car and placed them in the boot of Hickey's Fiat, Gda Connor told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting.

Gardai immediately swooped and arrested the pair before seizing the bags. They contained 28 bags of cocaine, weighing 27.9kg with a street value of €1,957,000 and 13 bags of heroin, weighing 6.4kg with a street value of €896,000. The combined market value of the drugs was €2.85 million.

Hickey's co-accused was charged with drugs and firearm offences, and he was sentenced last July to seven years in jail with two years suspended, the court heard.

The court heard Hickey has four previous convictions, including one for child cruelty. Defence barrister, Sean Gillane SC, said this conviction had nothing to do with violence but "sprang from a momentary neglect of a child in the city centre". The other convictions are for public order offences.

Mr Gillane said Hickey had a history of "chronic" addiction to alcohol and cocaine and needed the money to pay off debts.

"He could be described as someone who has lived most of his life with the shirt on his back and little else," Mr Gillane said. He said Hickey grew up in Summerhill in Dublin and worked as a forklift driver before falling into drug addiction.

The court heard Hickey knew there were drugs in the bags but didn't know how much. He had never met his co-accused before and was a "small fish" in the drugs operation. Mr Gillane said Hickey "panicked" at the last minute, which was why the men stood talking for 20 minutes.

Hickey had since got residential treatment for his drug addiction and had "got to the other side" of it, Mr Gillane said.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the matter for sentencing on November 30.

Isabel Hayes