A 48-year-old man who got involved in cocaine-dealing because of big gambling debts and serious pressure to make repayments has been given a five-year suspended jail term.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he had serious doubts about imposing a fully suspended sentence in the case against James Cregan of 49 Palmbury Orchard, Togher, Cork, but on the other hand, he was recognising the extensive efforts made by him since July 2019 to turn his life around.
Detective Garda Rory O’Connell said he obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home. On the way to carry out the search, the gardaí stopped the accused in his car and found that he had over €1,000 worth of cocaine.
He had a much bigger stash of cocaine at his home and a lesser amount of cannabis.
The total quantity of both drugs had a street value of over €23,000.
He told gardaí at the scene that he was under significant pressure from a gambling debt.
Defence barrister, Emmet Boyle, said this pressure included Cregan having the windows of his home blown in.
He said the accused had attended residential treatment for his gambling addiction and was also playing a positive role in the community through charitable work.
James Cregan pleaded guilty to a charge of having cocaine for sale or supply at Togher, on July 19, 2019, at a time when its street value exceeded €13,000.
He could have faced a mandatory minimum ten-year jail sentence.
The judge said the circumstances were so exceptional he could depart from the mandatory sentence.