DEALS of cocaine worth over €10,000 were found concealed in a washbag under the bonnet of a car and yesterday the driver was sentenced to one year in jail for drug-dealing.
The judge said the accused could not expect a fully suspended sentence as he had failed to disassociate completely from drugs after he was caught.
The Ballincollig man was caught with over €11,000 worth of cocaine – between what was found on his person and the larger stash under the bonnet of his car, Garda Brian Holland testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
28-year-old Michael O’Connell told gardaí when questioned that he was being paid €200 as a courier to drop it from location A to B.
Michael O’Connell, formerly of Innishmore Grove, Ballincollig, who also lived at Aylsbury, Ballincollig, pleaded guilty to having cocaine for sale or supply at an address at Innishmore Grove, Ballincollig, back on September 24, 2018.
Garda Holland testified that on that date he saw the defendant driving a silver coloured Toyota Avensis at Innishmore Drive at 10pm that night.
“There was a strong smell of cannabis from the car. He was nervous when I spoke to him. I suspected he was in possession of a controlled drug because of the smell of cannabis and his nervous demeanour.
“A bag of cocaine and a small amount of cannabis was found on his person,” Garda Holland said.
The guard carried out a thorough search of the car when it was seized and taken to Gurranabraher garda station at the time of the defendant’s arrest.
Garda Holland said, “There was a washbag under the bonnet of the car with deals of cocaine and bigger bags of cocaine.
“Charged with having the cocaine for sale or supply, he said the cannabis and cocaine on his person were for his own use and that the cocaine under the bonnet he had picked up from point A to deliver to point B, getting €200 to do this drop. He said he was a messenger and not a drug dealer.”
"The cannabis was a small amount for his own use.
"The cocaine had a street value of €11,290.”
O’Connell had 25 previous convictions.
The most relevant conviction was a nine-month sentence in 2016 for having drugs for sale or supply.
He also had nine counts for having drugs for his own use.
Defence barrister, Sinead Behan, said the favourable probation report showed he was facing his responsibilities.
“The report shows he has insight into the effects of drugs. He also has a supportive family,” Ms Behan said.
Ms Behan said yesterday, “He is living with his parents, he finds it difficult being remanded in custody. He was anxious to return to education for further training for employment. There are services available to him.”
Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “The problem with this young man is he is a drug addict with a history of coming before the courts and not measing up.
"After detection he did not disassociated himself. So he cannot expect a fully suspended sentence. I cannot depart from reality to that extent.
"There is a lot of reasoning as to why Michael O’Conneel should and ought to rehabilitate himself. But I cannot do that, he can.”
The judge imposed a sentence of three years backdated to February 17, the final two years suspended.