Gardaí seized close to €12,000 worth of illegal drugs during a search of a house in Clonmel with cocaine and amphetamine found in socks concealed under fascia on the exterior of the residence, Clonmel Circuit Court heard.
Stephen Gartland (31) of 4 Knocklofty Heights, Clonmel received a three years suspended jail sentence at the court’s latest session for possessing cocaine and amphetamine at his home for the purpose of selling or supplying it to others and also to possessing a small quantity of cannabis at his home. He pleaded guilty to committing these offences on June 21 last year.
Sgt Kieran O’Regan gave evidence that Sgt Graham Deegan, Gardas Fergal Bolger, Keith McIntyre, Fiona Gleeson and Pat Tobin accompanied by a Garda Regional Dog Unit search dog executed a search warrant at Stephen Gartland’s home at 2.50pm on June 21 last year.
During the search, they found a number of items in an upstairs bedroom. There were two black socks containing a large quantity of white powder in blue plastic.
A small transparent plastic zip lock bag containing white tablets, a miniature mobile phone with two sim cards and €650 cash was also found.
The two black socks that contained cocaine and amphetamine, had been concealed under the lead fascia on the exterior wall of the house immediately adjacent to the window of Stephen Gartland’s bedroom. The other items were found on two bedside lockers next to the defendant’s bed.
In the kitchen, gardaí found two digital weighing scales and several hundred zip lock deal bags in a cupboard.
They also found a small zip lock bag containing green plant material suspected to be cannabis herb and two mobile phones - an iPhone 4 and grey Nokia - on a kitchen shelf.
Stephen Gartland accepted ownership of all the drugs and other items and cash found in the house during his third interview at Clonmel Garda Station.
Analysis of the drugs seized at the house established that there was 158.816gms of cocaine with a street value of €11,117.12; 54.3gms of amphetamine valued at €814.70 and 0.668gms of cannabis valued at €13.36.
A report on the analysis of the mobile phones seized is awaited.
He stated the purpose of his being engaged in the sale and supply of drugs was to make money to live on.
The €650 seized during the search was given to him by his girlfriend to pay rent.
He told gardaí he had no savings and didn’t reveal where or from whom he purchased the drugs.
Defence barrister Cephas Power said his client was of the view that the drugs in his possession were worth about €4,000.
He had no previous convictions prior to this incident and he got involved in this crime due to dire financial circumstances.
He argued that his client’s guilty plea was valuable to the prosecution as there were other people residing in the house.
If the charges were contested it would have been difficult for the prosecution to associate the drugs with a particular person.
Mr Power said his client hasn’t come to the attention of the gardaí since this incident and in the absence of risk factors the Probation Service didn’t believe it required any further involvement with him.
The barrister said Mr Gartland was in meaningful employment at the moment and in a very stable, committed relationship with his partner.
He appealed to the court to give his client the benefit of a significant reduction in the sentence and to suspend it on condition he stay away from drugs.
Judge Patrick Meghan said Mr Gartland was clearly involved in drug dealing given the variety of drugs and the drug paraphernalia seized though the value of the drugs found was disputed.
He took into account that there may have been evidential difficulties for the State if this case proceeded to trial and the fact Mr Gartland hasn’t come to Garda attention since this incident.
The judge said he read the Probation Service report describing Mr Gartland’s difficult upbringing and how he spent long periods in foster care.
However, the court had to mark its disapproval of this crime.
He imposed a three year jail sentence, which he suspended for six years on condition Mr Gartland refrain from using and trading in drugs and keep the peace.