Cowcaine dealer Red-faced cowboy: Councillor's son appeals 10-month jail sentence
Dairy farmer nabbed selling coke as court hears customer offered to milk his cattle in return for €50 supply of the drug
HE WAS the poster boy for dairy farming who talked up Irish milk as 'white gold.'
But Barry Coleman, the son of Cork county councillor Alan Coleman, faces being branded a pariah in the farming community - after he was convicted of dealing cocaine, more commonly known by that nickname, out of his milking parlour.
Coleman (30) was sentenced to 10 months in prison last week after Bandon District Court heard how he was arrested on April 5 last year in possession of three bags of cocaine and €230 in cash.
Worse for Coleman, was the fact that an examination of his iPhone led to the discovery of what gardai alleged were a string of text messages indicating he was supplying drugs to others.
Gardai said in one message a customer had offered to milk Coleman's cows in exchange for €50 worth of the drug.
Coleman, who pleaded guilty to using the drug but denied sale and supply, immediately appealed the 10 month sentence - with his mother Brigid insisting to the Sunday World this week her boy "will clear his name".
"This whole thing has been totally over exaggerated," Brigid told our reporter.
"It's totally ridiculous.
"I wish someone would actually put out his side of the story.
"I'm very upset about this and very cross about what has happened here.
"Barry admitted that he was using cocaine - and he knows it was wrong and he shouldn't have done it.
"And I killed him for it and his brothers, they're abroad, they killed him over it as well.
"He was under considerable pressure at the time and he did it, he slipped.
"He took it - but everything else is pure rubbish, he wasn't dealing."
During last week's court case, Judge James McNulty heard how messages on Coleman's phone indicated he was selling cocaine to a number of people and that some customers collected the drug at his farmyard and dropped the money there in exchange.
Det Garda Colin O'Mahony said Coleman was found at Cois Bruach, Curra in Riverstick on April 5, 2019 with three bags of cocaine and €230 in cash.
A search uncovered the drugs and other items, though Coleman initially denied any sale or supply element.
He later admitted to using cocaine, saying he had done so for between nine months and a year and did between two and six lines a night at weekends.
He repeatedly denied supplying to others even though Det Garda O'Mahony said "the messages told a different story".
"The messages indicated involvement in the selling of drugs in the locality to a large group of regular customers over an extended period."
This included people collecting drugs from different parts of the dairy farm and leaving cash there, or paying through internet banking.
"One customer offered to work for drugs on the farm," Det Garda O'Mahony said.
Judge McNulty then read through a sample of the text message exchanges, one of which said "Any chance of a fifty for Sunday? Or I can milk for you Sunday, I'm off".
Other messages related to 'white' and 'green', and Det Garda O'Mahony said at one point Coleman tried to explain this away as referring to grass and hedging.
Other exchanges highlighted how the farmyard was where drugs were collected. "Go through that yard straight up to the top yard," read one message. "I'll be milking. Go straight on up to the dairy."
Coleman had been charged with possession and possession of drugs for the purposes of sale and supply.
The court heard he was a "substantial" dairy farmer and that the farm was currently in the process of being transferred to him.
His solicitor, Diarmuid O'Shea, said his client had "turned his life around" and had undertaken addiction counselling, but the judge queried why in the probation report Coleman had "underplayed" the extent of his drug activities.
Judge McNulty described it as "despicable" and as a "grave offence".
He added: "It is clear to me what he wanted to do was fund his drug use from the profits made selling to others."
Confirming her son is appealing the judgement, Coleman's mum Brigid said the text messages had been completely misinterpreted.
"Did you read the text messages?" she asked.
"Go straight through up to the milking parlour?
"And then the message about the 50?
"He has four people working for him part time.
"There is absolutely nothing that could be taken out of those text messages.
"That just seemed to be someone saying if he gave them €50, he'd milk for him on Sunday.
"How could they have made that out to be €50 worth of cocaine?
"And if that wasn't bad enough, he [the judge] gave him 10 months in prison then.
"And this was a first offence.
"He had three bags of cocaine worth €180 in total.
"But the sentencing, and the way this has been done, and what is being said about him - I mean it really maddens me.
"I don't think Barry even has a parking ticket. He has never been in trouble before.
"And now because of all the publicity he is really suffering.
"He has been told recently he should step aside from farming discussion groups because people are objecting to him."
Her son's current difficulties would have been hard to imagine just 18 months ago, when posing happily for a photograph with his cows, he gave a forward looking interview to the Farming Independent.
Detailing the success of the 140 acre farm he was on the verge of taking over from his councillor father Alan, he described himself as happy with the return of 31.5 cent a litre the pair were getting from their herd of 250 Jersey crosses.
He also described himself as a firm believer in the "white gold" credentials of dairying, saying he was confident that the sector will thrive despite the imminent problems which Brexit might hold for the sector.
Now, however the real question for Barry, is whether the Circuit Court will uphold or overturn his conviction for drug dealing.
"Barry will probably have to stay quiet until after the appeal," Brigid told the Sunday World.
"But when the appeal is done he will definitely speak.
"Barry's friends know Barry and they fully support him.
"But being asked to leave the farming discussion group really hurt him.
"It would be a big discussion group and there would be a lot of fairly conservative people on it.
"So they would probably feel it wouldn't be a respectable thing now what has happened to him. His name has been tarnished."