A Ballybrit man who denied selling eight bags of heroin, was sentenced to 12 months at Galway District Court this week, after he failed to convince Judge Mary Fahy that he had been at the petrol station on the Tuam Road just “to get gear”.
Self confessed drug addict Shane Holian (39) with an address 10 Ballybrit Cottages, Ballybrit, appeared in court last Monday after being found in possession of heroin, with a street value of €600. He was charged with possession and with intent to sale or supply at Tuam Road on February 8, 2007. Other offences against him were possession of heroin and cannabis resin at Galway Garda Station on the same date.
Detective Garda Marie Flaherty told the court that she and Sgt Shane Killeen had been directed by Detective Sgt Brendan Carroll to go to Monaghan’s petrol station on Tuam Road to carry out surveillance. At 5.20pm they observed a blue Toyota Carina drive in past the shop and reverse against the road. A small blue Opel Corsa then entered the forecourt and parked approximately 15 feet from the first car. The defendant got out of the passenger door of the Corsa and walked towards the Corina where the driver opened the window. As she and Sgt Killeen approached Holian placed his hands on the window and “in his right hand there were a number of white bags”. When he was restrained the eight bags were then “dispersed” into the driver’s side of the car and onto the floor. She added that the driver was ordered to put his hands on the wheel. Holian was then arrested at 5.40pm and conveyed to Galway Garda Station where he was detained under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act. He was then searched and one bag of heroin and cannabis resin were found in his possession.
Under cross-examination by defence solicitor Sean Acton, Det Garda Flaherty said that when they reached the defendant Sgt Killeen grabbed Holian by the throat from behind to make sure he didn’t swallow anything and she could see that he dropped “small wraps” onto the floor of the car during this motion; four bags landed on the floor, three went under the driver’s seat, and one landed in the side compartment of the door. She said that no indentifiable fingerprints had been found on the bags. Mr Acton put it to Det Garda Flaherty that his client had actually been there to buy drugs. Det Garda Flaherty replied that she did not believe this as she could see that the defendant and the occupants of the car, that there was no physical contact between them, and no interference of the bags.
Sgt Killeen gave evidence that he had “no doubt whatsoever that the packets were in his [the defendant’s] hands”.
Giving evidence, Holian said that the bags were “folded” onto his hand and he was told to “take a pick out of that”. When questioned by Inspector Ernie White, Holian admitted having the bags in his hand but denied that he was selling them. When further pressed he replied: “That’s not true, I was there scoring. I was given a choice of bag... You do it as fast as you can, they [the bags] weren’t that long in my hand.” He said that he did have one bag of heroin (valued at €60) on him, in his inside pocket, but that he didn’t have any more.
Mr Acton then called a witness for the defendant, Mr Padraic Hurson, the driver of the other vehicle. Mr Acton asked Judge Mary Fahy to advise the witness about giving evidence which may or may not incriminate him. Mr Hurson told the court that the drugs were already in the car when he arrived at the garage. “I was out of my skin,” said Mr Hurson after Inspector White asked why he had not told gardai this at the time.
The court heard that in his statement given at the station, Mr Hurson said he had been there to “get one or two [bags] from him [the defendant] and was going smoking then”. It was also stated that he “didn’t see the bags until ye [the gardai pounced”. However, in court, Mr Hurson said that at the station he realised he could be held for seven days and got the “vibe from the guards” that they wanted him to incriminate the defendant. Inspector White put it to the witness that he was in court “under duress” and that he was “frightened of him [the defendant]”. Mr Hurson denied this.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Fahy said that the defendant’s evidence was “not credible and neither is the evidence of his witness”. She said that the evidence she favoured was that of the gardai. Inspector White then told the court that the defendant had 55 previous convictions, including a 12 month sentence for drug dealing in December 1993.
For possession of heroin with intent to sell or supply Judge Fahy convicted and sentenced Holian to 12 months in jail. For the two counts of possessing heroin one month concurrent sentences were imposed on each. For possessing cannabis resin he was fined €200 payable forthwith. Recognisance was fixed at €1,000 with independent surety of €4,000, one half to be lodged on each conviction.