A Cork man carrying almost €70,000 worth of heroin from Dublin was so intoxicated when stopped by gardaí on his journey back the only excuse he could think of was that he had been drinking at Temple Bar.
Gardaí immediately became even more suspicious of Gary Coleman as the date was March 31 2020 and the pubs of Temple Bar and elsewhere were closed due to the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Garda Aidan Riordan said a garda check on traffic was taking place due to Covid restrictions when they saw a taxi travelling on the M8 motorway towards Cork.
They became suspicious of drug activity and when they searched him they found four individual plastic bags of Diamorphine (heroin) with a total street value of almost €70,000.
The officers were satisfied the taxi driver had nothing to do with the incident.
Gary Coleman co-operated in relation to his part in the crime but did not know others involved or was in fear of supplying any information.
He had collected four envelopes of cash and gone to Ballyfermot in Dublin to meet a person at a contact point where he was given bags of heroin. Coleman told gardaí he had made a similar trip previously by train.
The accused explained that he did this to get some reduction on a drug debt.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said at Coleman’s sentencing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that “this unfortunate drug addict” was being used by unidentified drug dealers in Cork to transport heroin to them to be dealt on the streets of Cork.
The judge remarked that the drug dealers who used him deserved to have their drugs confiscated when they were using a drug addict who came up with an excuse like drinking in Temple Bar when he was stopped by gardaí.
Siobhán Lankford, defence senior counsel, said the accused was definitely making progress, moving from homelessness to an apartment at Cove Street in Cork and beginning to deal with his addiction issues.
The judge imposed a four-year sentence and suspended the last two years of that sentence.