A BLOCK of cocaine wrapped in plastic was tossed from a speeding car pursued by gardaí on a country road in the Mitchelstown area and after that day the culprit fled the country and moved to Australia.
Now, back at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, the accused has been given a three-year sentence with the last two years suspended.
Judge Helen Boyle said that while the accused had done a lot to rehabilitate, it could not be ignored that he had fled from the jurisdiction after he was caught with the drugs, albeit before he was charged.
Sinéad Behan defence barrister, said in relation to his emigration four years ago: “He realised he had gone down a cul de sac in life and he wanted to make a clean start and get away from the company he was keeping.”
Det Garda David Moynihan said a European arrest warrant for Gavin McGrath was executed on June 9, 2020, in Lanzarote and he was brought back to Ireland.
Ms Behan said that after 12 weeks in custody – half of that time in a Spanish prison - he set up his own business, was working hard, living with his parents and had rehabilitated.
The barrister said that he had shown his genuineness by abiding by all of his bail conditions including keeping to a nightly 10pm curfew which she said would not be easy for a 27-year-old man.
Judge Boyle said:
“He became a productive member of society by choosing to leave the jurisdiction. We are now four years later. I am not convinced he gets to get the advantage of that.”
For that reason, the judge said that the accused could not be given the benefit of a fully suspended sentence.
Detective Garda David Moynihan gave evidence in relation to the drugs offences carried out by Gavin McGrath, of Ballynahan, Kildorrery, County Cork, over four years ago.
“On Friday, April 6, 2018, at 8.40pm Detective Garda David Barry 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.
“We followed behind the car and at Curraghgorm, Mitchelstown, a small package was thrown out the front passenger window by Gavin McGrath.
“This package was retrieved from the roadside and appeared to be a block of white powder wrapped in blue plastic.” 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 Moynihan 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 more than €26,000.
Det Garda Moynihan said Gavin McGrath was released that day, without being charged, and that he left the jurisdiction to evade prosecution.
He pleaded guilty to charges, including having in excess of €13,000 worth of cocaine for sale or supply in April 2018.