A HEROIN wholesaler living in Blarney who was caught with drugs stashes on two separate occasions was sentenced to 17 years in jail today.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan imposed the sentence on Garrett Hill, aged 38, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. Consecutive sentences of seven and 10 years were imposed on the accused, who had not shown a scintilla of remorse for his crimes which had a devastating effect on society, the judge said.
Garrett Hill, of The View, Gleann Na Rí, Tower, Blarney, pleaded at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to charges of having heroin for sale or supply at Cork Builders Providers car park in Togher on August 25, 2016, and having heroin for sale or supply at an apartment at Blarney shopping centre on the same date.
While on bail for those charges he was caught for another drug-dealing offence at his home in Blarney in January 2017 and he also pleaded guilty to that.
Originally from Drogheda and married with a family in Blarney he was described as organiser-in-chief of the drug-dealing detected by gardaí.
More than €7,000 worth of heroin was found in the car in Togher in August 2016 and more than €96,000 worth in an apartment at Blarney shopping centre.
In January 2017 at his home, gardaí seized almost €13,000 worth of drugs for sale or supply, consisting mainly of cannabis on that occasion but also of cocaine and heroin.
Detective Garda Ian Cahalane testified today that when interviewed by gardaí on six separate occasions in relation to drug-dealing in August 2016 and January 2017, Hill replied ‘No comment’ to every relevant question.
The background to the surveillance was that in the August 2016 case members of An Garda Síochána were watching an apartment at Blarney Shopping Centre where a particular man — not Garrett Hill — was living.
Det Garda Cahalane said the defendant arrived in a grey Seat car with this man and they went to the apartment and drove away to Cork Builders Providers car park where other gardaí saw a blue Volkswagen van park beside the Seat.
Hill got out of his car carrying a package the size of a tennis ball, got into the passenger seat of the Volkswagen and the glove compartment was seen to open.
Gardaí arrived and arrested all three parties and the package in the glove compartment was found to contain €7,700 worth of heroin.
In a follow-up search of the apartment in Blarney, €96,000 worth of heroin was found.
Key evidence, linking Hill to the drugs found in the other man’s apartment at Blarney Shopping Centre, included Hill’s DNA on plastic bags containing drugs.
And the bag he was caught with in Togher was a sandwich bag torn from a roll of bags used to contain the heroin in the Blarney apartment.
By the way it was torn, gardaí forensically linked the Togher and Blarney apartment heroin seizures.
In respect of the January 2017 Siobhán Lankford, prosecution senior counsel, said the evidence was overwhelming.
Gardaí stood in the darkness outside Hill’s illuminated kitchen and watched him weighing and bagging drugs.
Officers called at the front door and it was concluded that Hill thought they were officers calling to check he was keeping his curfew – something they would have done without entering the property.
Hill was observed by the officers in the back garden as he calmly removed his gloves and went to answer the door. Instead of a curfew check, it was more officers with a warrant for a drugs search.
Anthony Sammon, defence senior counsel, said to Judge O’Callaghan today: “You are obviously dealing with a man who was operating at a very serious level in the dealing of contraband drugs.
“However, he has reached the age of 38. Persons sometimes decide to give it up.
“A realisation sets in that crime does not pay.
“A desire can arise to rehabilitate and change the course. I am submitting Garrett Hill is showing signs of that.
“In prison, he is putting his shoulder to the wheel engaging in services for self-improvement.
“He is a person who wishes to engage in the prison sentence in the most positive way possible and attain education to seek out a law-abiding lifestyle…
“He wants desperately to put that (criminal offending) behind him.”
Judge Brian O’Callaghan described Hill’s crimes as most serious offences:
“This man is a cog in a particular wheel. It is a wheel of death. A wheel of destruction. It destroys lives and communities.
“Mr Hill is no fool, he knows very well the consequences of his actions. He showed total disregard for these consequences.
“There is some evidence he has been engaging in self-improvement. Self-improvement is different to an intent to rehabilitate.
“Is he bettering himself to be a better criminal or a better citizen?
“This court’s view is that he has shown no remorse. We must always remember the victims of drug-fuelled crimes.
“This court had the opportunity to observe Mr Hill during the opening of the trial.
“I can find not a scintilla of evidence of remorse or regret, not to mind turning his back on crime. He was of no assistance to An Garda Síochána.
“There is nothing at all before this court today on anything to allow it to incentivise rehabilitation which is regrettable. Mr Hill was the organiser-in-chief on this particular day (in August 2016).
“Heroin, the most serious drug in this country, is causing nothing but destruction where it goes. He got involved in this for nothing else but profit.
“This is purely a wholesaler of drugs for his own personal gain. The offence could not be more grave.
“(At his home in January 2017) he was preparing three different drugs for the market. He was carrying this out where he was on curfew and anticipated a call from guards.
“He showed a total and utter disregard for responsibilities he might have as a fellow citizen. It is mind-boggling that he would carry out this criminal activity in those circumstances.”