A small-time drug dealer who had been arrested during Operation Scarf, a surveillance operation carried out last year by members of the National Drugs Unit, had the last nine months of a 21 month sentence suspended at Galway Circuit Appeals Court last Tuesday.
Stephen Keary (39 ) with an address at 11 Ballybrit Cottages, Ballybrit, Galway, appealed the severity of the sentence which was imposed. The Circuit Appeals Court heard this week that the appellant had been charged with three offences under Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. He had been found in possession of heroin with intent to sell or supply on March 14, March 22, April 12, and May 3 of last year. When he appeared in the District Court in May of this year he was sentenced to 21 months.
Contact had been made with Keary and a number of other drug dealers by undercover gardai who posed as drug users. During the course of the deal Keary gave them an “undertaking to give them heroin” on two occasions for €100 and on two more occasions for €150. According to Garda evidence, there had been no time lapse in initialising the deal and securing the drugs and on two occasions it was “in co-operation” with another party. The court heard that while the appellant had no previous convictions in relation to drugs he did have convictions for a “variety of criminal activity” including burglary and assault.
The court was also told that Keary had been a drug user himself at the time and that there was not “much financial gain” as it was mainly to fund his own habit.
Keary’s barrister told Judge Raymond Groarke that his client, who had entered a guilty plea in the District Court, did have a “chronic addiction” which had developed after he sustained head injuries following a severe accident. He said that Keary had been in hospital for a long time following the accident and was even admitted to Beaumont Hospital this year to have the “side of his head reconstructed”. Keary is now “attempting to get his life back on track”, is engaging in a methadone programme, and hopes to get work as a carpenter.
After hearing the evidence, Judge Groarke said “people make their own choices in life and have to accept the consequences”. He said that the court has to have a serious view to people engaging in selling drugs, however, he also noted that Keary was making an effort to rehabilitate. Judge Groarke confirmed the order of the District Court but suspended the final nine months on condition that he be of good behaviour and not get into trouble for two years. He was also ordered to co-operate with the probation services.