A North Cork man who was allegedly seen by gardaí throwing a packet of cocaine out a car window more than three years ago left for Australia before he was charged and now gardaí have objected to him getting bail.
Detective Garda David Barry objected to bail being granted to Gavin McGrath, 24, of Ballynahan, Kildorrery, citing the seriousness of the charges and garda fears that the accused would not turn up to stand trial if granted bail.
“It is alleged that on Friday April 6 2018 at 8.40pm Detective Garda David Moynihan and I were in the townland of Derrynanool, Mitchelstown, when we saw a white Seat Leon where Gavin McGrath was identified as the front seat passenger.
“This package was retrieved from the roadside and appeared to be a block of white powder wrapped in plastic.”
It was alleged that on forensic examination it was cocaine with a value of €8,743.
The following day a warrant was obtained to search a farmyard at Derrynanool. Det. Garda Barry alleged that a lunchbox was found in a piece of farm machinery and that this box contained three packs of cocaine similar to the one discarded from the car. The cocaine in the lunchbox had a street value of over €26,000.
Det. Garda Barry said Gavin McGrath was released that day in April three years ago, without being charged, and that, “He left the jurisdiction in a deliberate attempt to evade the subsequent prosecution.”
A European arrest warrant was executed in Lanzarote, Spain, on June 9 2020, when McGrath was admitted to bail in Spain on a condition that he surrender his passport pending his repatriation to Ireland.
The detective said gardaí were informed in December last year that they were unable to locate the defendant and that he had applied for and been granted a passport card on May 28 this year.
Det. Garda Barry said arrangements were made by gardaí to travel to Lanzarote on Thursday, July 8, but the defendant came back on a flight he arranged himself on Tuesday, July 6.
Defence solicitor Aonghus McCarthy applied for bail for McGrath who is now charged with drugs counts including having in excess of €13,000 worth of cocaine for sale or supply in April 2018 – a charge which can carry a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years on conviction.
Mr McCarthy, submitted at Cork District Court, “Contrary to the state’s view he is not a man who will evade justice. At the time he was out of the jurisdiction he was legally, perfectly entitled to be where he wanted to be.
"His lawyers made contact with Detective Sergeant James O’Shea, who is in charge of the investigation, to say he would not contest his repatriation and he remained in the same place. He had a passport and he could have left at any stage.”
Mr McCarthy said to Judge Olann Kelleher that he might not be impressed with the defendant going to Australia in 2018 and take the view – “you (the accused) had a fair idea you were going to be prosecuted, you should have stayed put.”
But again, Mr McCarthy said no condition or law was breached by the accused in going to Australia.
Judge Kelleher refused bail and remanded the accused in custody until July 15. The accused, who appeared by video link from prison, did not give evidence.