Guilty plea | 

Co Down man caught ‘red handed’ with £190k of cocaine is jailed for 18 months

Jackie Paul Kirkwood (45) had 214 previous convictions

Jackie Kirkwood

John CassidyBelfast Telegraph

A Co Down man "caught red handed'' with £190,000 worth of cocaine was today jailed for 18 months.

Jackie Paul Kirkwood (45), of Everogue Lane in Crossgar, had previously pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to supply and possessing Class B and C drugs.

He further admitted driving whilst disqualified and driving with no insurance.

Judge Patricia Smyth handed Kirkwood a three year sentence for drug dealing, divided equally between custody and probation.

The Belfast Recorder also imposed a consecutive sentence of one year in custody for driving whilst disqualified.

The judge told Kirkwood: "You have 214 previous convictions, 95 for road traffic offences. This was your 35th conviction for driving whilst disqualified.

"You were convicted in March 2021 of driving whilst disqualified and received a one year prison sentence suspended for two years.

"You completely disregarded an order of the court. It is a clear that you are a man who has no regard for the law.''

Belfast Crown Court heard police stopped Kirkwood driving a Yamaha X City moped on the Beersbridge Road in east Belfast at 1.30 pm on November 10, 2021, and found almost 2kg of cocaine in a storage compartment under the seat.

Prosecutor Natalie Pinkerton said one package contained 974 grams of cocaine with a purity level of 69 per cent.

"There was a further one kilo block of compressed white powder confirmed to have been cocaine with a purity level of 73 per cent.'

Seized goods from Jackie Kirkwood

She said a number of cutting agents, including benzocaine, were also found by police with a purity of 45.61 grams.

A total of 23 yellow tablets were also found during the search of his home, along with weighing scales and "dealer bags''.

"We can't gainsay that this defendant was any more than a courier. We have no evidence to say that is incorrect.

"But couriers play a vital role in crimes of this nature and crimes of this nature can't be completed without couriers.''

Defence counsel Richard McConkey said Kirkwood was "moving the drugs from A to B but was not involved in the organisation of this drug concern''.

"He did not know the amount of drugs or the purity of the drugs, why would he? He knew he was transporting drugs.''

The court heard that when stopped by police, Kirkwood was out of prison on licence and this was revoked for breaching its terms.

"He has convictions for possessing drugs and has used drugs for every aspect of life, for sleeping, for going about his everyday life and blocking out bad memories,'' said Mr McConkey.

"He has been abusing drugs throughout a long period of his life but he doesn't have a single conviction prior to this for supplying drugs despite his age.

"He hasn't been involved in this enterprise before. His account is that he was coerced into this enterprise to pay off a drug debt.''

The barrister said since Kirkwood has been in prison his son had died and was unable to attend the funeral.

"He was effectively caught red handed by police. People in the organisation of drugs don't drive around on a moped with the drugs and get caught by police.

"He was clearly used and could be described as a 'patsy' in this enterprise. He has serious regrets about his involvement in the commission of these offences as a courier,'' added Mr McConkey.

Judge Smyth ordered a destruction of all drugs and drug-related paraphernalia and disqualified Kirkwood from driving for three years.

Today's Headlines

More Courts

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos