Largest ever heroin seizure in Cork sees key player jailed for eight years

Largest ever heroin seizure in Cork sees key player jailed for eight years

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a ten-year sentence on Derek Keenan, 42, but suspended the last two years of that sentence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

The biggest ever seizure of heroin in Cork city with a street value of over €400,000 resulted in a key player in the supply of heroin in the area being jailed for eight years.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a ten-year sentence on Derek Keenan, 42, but suspended the last two years of that sentence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Detective Sergeant Michael O’Halloran said gardaí attached to the divisional drugs unit received confidential information about a large quantity of heroin and they mounted a surveillance operation near the home of the accused.

“At 11 p.m. on July 9 gardaí were monitoring the address and Derek Keenan was seen sitting in the driver’s seat of his car at the drive on 110A Harbour View Road. A second male got into the passenger side of the car.

“Gardaí approached and explained there was a warrant to search the premises and the car,” Det. Sgt. O’Halloran said.

A gear bag on Keenan’s lap contained approximately two kilos of Diamorphine. Keenan had just handed another gear bag to the man on the passenger seat and this second bag contained about one kilo of the drug.

The total value of the heroin was €419,000.

The detective said the admissions made by Keenan were in respect of his own involvement in the drugs trade but he did not assist gardaí in the identification of any other parties.

Keenan claimed that he had paid a delivery driver €600 for bringing the packages of heroin to him that night and he claimed that his motive for involving himself in the drug trade was the clearing of a €6,000 debt. Det. Garda O’Halloran did not accept this explanation.

“This was the largest quantity of Diamorphine ever recovered in Cork city in any drugs operation,” the detective said.

He added, “The whole purpose was to increase the sale of Diamorphine on the streets of Cork… He became a target of our office because of the level he was at.” 

Donal O’Sullivan, defence barrister, said the accused was using heroin himself at the time he was caught and he was also on a Methadone treatment programme. The barrister also said there were no trappings of any wealth accruing to the accused through his criminal actions.

“This man was an addict and played a full role but was inspired by addiction.

The accused had seven previous convictions for having drugs for his own use and two for drug-dealing. Those dealing cases occurred in 2014 and resulted in a suspended jail term and a community service order.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “When he got those lenient sentences what effort did he make to challenge his addiction. I am unaware of any doctor or counsellor recommending methadone and heroin use together.

“He was caught red-handed and he did make admissions to his part.

“He was a vital part of drug distribution in Cork city and it was a large quantity of drugs. To say he was doing it to clear a €6,000 debt is somewhat fanciful. I won’t accept it.” 

The judge said the mandatory minimum sentence of ten years was appropriate in this case. He suspended the last two years of that.

Also listed today at Cork Circuit Criminal Court was the case against co-accused, 57-year-old Anthony Cuthbert of 19 St. Finbarr’s Road, Greenmount, Cork, on the same charge but it was struck out as the defendant is recently deceased.

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