Nenagh Court: Judge Elizabeth MacGrath convicted a woman of impeding a garda drugs search
A woman who refused to come out of the bathroom during a garda drugs raid has been found guilty of impeding the gardaí during the search.
Hope Morrissey, with an address given as Apartment 106c Carrig Rua, Nenagh, pleaded not guilty to impeding or obstructing the gardaí during a search under the Misuse of Drugs Act on January 29, 2018. She did not attend court and the case went ahead in her absence.
Garda Seamus Kelly of the Nenagh drugs unit told the court that he was keeping the apartment at Carrig Rua under surveillance on the day when he observed a male approach the apartment and take a package from the letter box.
He stopped the male and searched him. The male handed over the package, which, he said, contained cannabis.
Garda Kelly then got a search warrant and when he returned to the apartment he found Ms Morrissey’s then partner in the hallway and Ms Morrissey was in the bathroom.
She was asked to come out of the bathroom but she refused to do so.
Garda Kelly heard her flush the toilet.
When she did come out, he found cannabis herb in the toilet bowl and more cannabis herb in a bin.
Garda Kelly said that Ms Morrissey’s boyfriend accepted ownership of the cannabis herb.
Garda Kelly took a cautioned statement from Ms Morrissey in which she replied “no comment” to most of his questions, including questions about her owning a mobile phone and reference to a message on Facebook from someone looking for “a 25”.
She also replied “no comment” when asked if she had placed the cannabis herb in the letter box.
Garda Kelly asked Ms Morrissey about a weighing scales he found in the apartment and she told him it was used for weighing out chemical formulas for the hairdressing course she was doing in college.
Under cross-examination by solicitor Elizabeth McKeever, for Ms Morrissey, Garda Kelly outlined details of messages he found on her mobile phone from her then partner asking her if she were at home and could she put “a 25 in the L box”.
She confirmed that she was to get “a 25” and her partner replied: “Yup”.
Ms Morrissey then messaged: “Good to go.”
Garda Kelly agreed with McKeever that he had forcibly entered the apartment but said he had used his shoulder to push in the door, which, he said, had not been damaged.
He was “100% sure” he had knocked beforehand.
Garda Kelly said he did not try push in the bathroom door “because I would never do that to a female”.
He couldn’t recall how long Ms Morrissey had been in the bathroom, but said that there was a delay.
Garda Kelly said the drugs found were valued at around €50 and Ms Morrissey’s then boyfriend accepted ownership.
He believed Ms Morrissey was no longer with this person.
Sgt Regina McCarthy told the court that she arrived at the scene because she was told there was a female present.
She observed a “green substance” down the toilet and searched Ms Morrissey, but found nothing on her.
She told Ms McKeever that search was carried out with just herself and Ms Morrissey present.
Judge Elizabeth MacGrath said she noted Ms Morrisey had placed cannabis in the toilet and failed to come out of the bathroom.
She was satisfied that Ms Morrissey had been requested to come out of the bathroom and when Garda Kelly did get access there was evidence of the disposal of drugs.
She noted Garda Kelly had heard Ms Morrissey flush the toilet.
In relation to the text messages, Judge MacGrath said Ms Morrisey was aware that there were drugs on the premises and they were being supplied to others.
She convicted Ms Morrissey.
Ms McKeever told the judge that her client was 20 years old and single.
She had cut all ties with her former boyfriend and was trying to “put her life on the correct path”.
She said Ms Morrissey had qualified as a hairdresser but was not working due to Covid-19.
Judge MacGrath fined Ms Morrissey €100 and set recognizance in Ms Morrisssey’s own bond of €250.