“Where was Fido?” That was the question asked by the judge in the trial by jury of a man allegedly retrieving over nine kilos of cannabis resin from a ditch who claimed he was looking for rabbits to hunt.
Karl Humphries – who has just been found guilty on drugs supply charges - said he always kept dogs and had been going hunting all his life and this included ‘dazzling’ or ‘lamping’ rabbits in fields.
He told the judge and jury he was checking the suitability of a field for dazzling when a detective garda from the drugs squad emerged from the ditch and caught on to him.
Detective Garda Michael O’Halloran said that when he went on duty that day he got into a concealed position to observe the area of a ditch on a quiet lane in Watergrasshill where drugs squad officers had previously located €58,000 worth of cannabis. They returned the black bag of drugs to the concealed position under an old tyre and kept it under surveillance.
Det Garda O’Halloran said a green Renault Clio arrived and the passenger – Karl Humphries – got out.
“He (the defendant) started what appeared to be a search of this area. He got over the gate. He searched these tyres.
"He was in shock – shaking,” the detective testified.
Interviewed later by gardaí, one of the detectives put it to him – in the memo put before the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court –
Humphries told gardaí that this was the case and he denied being involved in the drugs trade at any level at all.
“All I care about is soccer, keep fit and hunting,” he said when first interviewed in the case which dates back to 2012.
Defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan called the accused to give evidence in his trial.
Humphries said, “My business there was picking out the fields for hunting.”
Mr O’Sullivan BL asked, “Were you ever there before?”
Humphries replied, “No, but I would like to go back again for a bit of hunting.”
Det Garda O’Halloran said when he was holding on to the defendant’s arm that day, “He got such a fright I could feel his heartbeat through his arm.”
Humphries said he called his friend that evening and said to him, “Kevin, I want to go dazzling tonight.”
He claimed that he saw Det Garda O’Halloran lying in the ditch before the detective ever approached him.
“I said, ‘hello, hello, are you OK?’ There was no response. I didn’t know what was going on. I started walking towards that person. He just jumped up off the ground and grabbed me. I said, ‘I am checking the fields,’ and he said, ‘You are, yeah.’ He was agitated. I was kind of laughing.”
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin asked, “Where was Fido?”
Humphries replied, “What’s that?”
The judge said, “The dog.”
Humphries, 38, said, “I was scouting. I was not going lamping. I was scouting to go lamping.”
The judge clarified that the accused was saying he would go out the country, scout for a field, go back home and pick up the dogs and then return to go lamping.
The case related to July 29 2012 at Ardnageehy East, Watergrasshill, County Cork.
Humphries of Curraheen Drive, Bishopstown, Cork, denied all charges against him.
Donal McCarthy prosecution barrister was invited by the judge to explain to the jury – after they delivered their 10 – 2 majority guilty verdict - the delay in the case.
Mr McCarthy said the accused went to Australia to work and came back of his own accord.
Referring to the mandatory minimum sentence for the offence of having more than €13,000 worth of drugs for sale or supply unless there were exceptional circumstances, the judge adjourned sentence until September 20 and said to defence barrister Mr O’Sullivan, “Your fella is facing ten years. You can be blinding the jury with Fido but I don’t know where the defendant was going… It is really throwing pepper in my eyes – someone would want to pull themselves together.”