Although coke addict Gary ‘Goof’ Coleman was ordered to spend half that in jail and half on licence, prison staff had to set the 29-year-old loyalist hood free as he has already served that and more while on remand in Maghaberry.
Coleman was all set to marry his partner this time last year and had bought his beloved a £3,000 sparkler but his plans were scuppered when cops called to the door of his plush Margaretta Plaza pad in Belfast.
Even though Judge Paul Ramsey QC ordered the ring to be given back to the gangster, he has no one to give it as he was dumped not long after his arrest.
Goof and drug dealing brother Dee are persona non grata on their old Shankill Road stomping ground after the pair were ordered out of the area after a series of bust-ups.
Court papers listed him as being of “no fixed abode”.
Coleman had earlier pleaded guilty to offences of possessing cocaine with intent to supply, simple possession of pregabalin, receiving stolen goods and possessing and converting criminal property, all committed on June 23 last year.
Acting under a warrant, cops raided his city centre apartment and seized just over 20 grams of cocaine, 44 pregabalin tablets, £205 in cash, two luxury watches, bottles of booze “with the tags still attached,” electric razors, designer shirts and trousers, and the gold ring.
The coke, which was eight per cent pure “with a mixing agent detected,” was split into four lots and placed into self-sealing plastic bags and was stashed in a kitchen cupboard.
The court heard that Coleman had been conducting his drug dealing escapades from the apartment, paying the £930 monthly rent in cash.
According to a probation report, Coleman only started abusing drugs in 2017 but his criminal record of 19 previous convictions includes five drug offences, the first of which was committed ten years ago.
Judge Ramsey revealed the report also stated that Coleman had enjoyed a “happy and stable childhood” until his “disruptive behaviour” got him kicked out of the Boys Model school and he fell in with a “negative peer group”.
“As far as the offences are concerned the probation officer writes that he tried to minimise the offences and shows a lack of consequential thinking,” said the judge, adding that Coleman claimed “the detection came as a relief” as he was able to “break the pattern of consumption”.
The judge said he agreed with the defence argument that Coleman was “low-end retail dealing for monetary gain” but he exhibited “no trappings of wealth”.
Having imposed the 18-month sentence, Judge Ramsey turned to the Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO) being sought by the police and PPS, seeking to have restrictions on the amount of cash and type of mobile phone that Coleman would be allowed.
Despite the half dozen drug convictions and the test for such an order being necessary and proportionate to protect the public being “on the balance of probabilities,” the judge declined to impose a SCPO.
In addition, Judge Ramsey ordered that a watch and the ring to be returned to Coleman but the £205 which was seized is to be given to the charity Action Deaf Youth while the drugs and paraphernalia will be destroyed.