GARDAÍ stated at a district court sitting last week that they suspected that a Belmullet man who was found guilty of the sale and supply of cocaine was going to supply the drug at a 21st birthday party.
Liam Walker (25) of Shanahee, Belmullet was convicted of the possession of €452 worth of cocaine for sale and supply after pleading not guilty to the offence at last week’s sitting of Belmullet District Court.
The hearing heard that Mr Walker threw nine ziplock bags containing 6.747 grammes of cocaine, along with 17 €50 notes and nine €20 notes from his van after he drove away when he was stopped by Gardaí in the townland of Knockshambo, Belmullet on September 29, 2018. A total of €1,035 in cash was recovered having been thrown from the vehicle.
In a subsequent search of Mr Walker’s family home, gardaí discovered two diaries containing names which they claimed was a ‘tick list’ of people he was supplying drugs too. Gardaí also discovered a silver spoon which they said was used to take cocaine.
The court heard that on the evening of the detection there was a 21st birthday party in Belmullet and gardaí claimed that Mr Walker had the cocaine ready in bags to supply to people at the party.
Mr Walker admitted that he was going to the party but claimed the drugs were for his own personal use and denied ever supplying drugs to anyone. In his direct evidence, Mr Walker claimed that he bought ten bags of cocaine earlier that week in Galway and said it was for his own use. When asked how long 6.7 grammes of cocaine would last, he claimed it ‘could last a week’ or ‘end up going in two nights’.
During the hearing, Detective Garda Kieran Naughton of the Mayo Divisional Drug Unit said they were on patrol at 7.40pm when they stopped a car which had performed a u-turn. While performing a search of this car, Det Garda Naughton said an Opel Astra van pulled up at the junction and immediately drove off when they identified themselves as gardaí.
The driver started to throw items from the van but was stopped a short time later. There were no other illegal items found in the van. Garda Naughton said he believed that Mr Walker drove to the location to sell the other person – who was Mr Walker’s cousin – cocaine and arrested him under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
When he was questioned in Belmullet Garda Station, Mr Walker made a series of ‘no comment’ answers when asked about the drugs and the purpose of them.
When questioned by Ms Samantha Geraghty, solicitor for Mr Walker, Det Garda Naughton accepted that a number of names in the diaries related to people her client did work for when fixing cars and tractors.
However he said that pages also only contained initials and nicknames with figures of money beside them and he believed this was a ‘tick list’ relating to drug dealing. Det Garda Naughton also said that Mr Walker had an opportunity to explain the diaries when he was arrested.
Ms Geraghty explained that on legal advice he was advised to make no comment. Det Garda Naughton added that he was not denying that Mr Walker used cocaine but it was his information that he was also involved in the sale and supply of drugs in the Belmullet area.
Mr Walker claimed he panicked when he was stopped by the gardaí and threw everything that was in his pocket out the window. When asked why the money was also thrown out, he said he had been paid by his father for fishing that day and the money was in the wallet with the drugs.
Mr Walker said he earned money by fishing and working on cars and the names of the people in the diaries were of people he did work for. He told Inspector Denis Harrington that depending on the week he could make €600 to €700.
Insp Harrington put it to him that his cousin told gardaí he went to get a bag of cocaine off the defendant. Mr Walker said his cousin messaged him on Snapchat looking for cocaine but he refused to give him any. He said his cousin refused to take no for an answer so he wanted to meet him face-to-face to ensure he knew not to ask him in public later that evening.
Mr Walker denied a claim by Insp Harrington that he had the nine bags to sell at the 21st birthday party later that night and he also denied the money he had was as a result of drug dealing.
Judge Fiona Lydon said she was satisfied that the state had proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt and convicted the defendant of possession of cocaine for the purpose of sale and supply.
In mitigation, Ms Geraghty said her client started to abuse the drug after the death of his uncle who he was very close to and his parents were also going through a separation at the time. She described the arrest as a blessing in disguise as her client had stopped taking cocaine and was seeing a psychotherapist. The court heard that he had no previous convictions for drug offences.
Judge Lydon said the court takes a dim view of the sale and supply of drugs as it creates havoc in the life of the person supplied with the drug. She said that while Mr Walker was seeing a psychotherapist, she wanted him to engage with a drug counsellor and to undergo supervised drug testing before finalising sentencing.
Judge Lydon also asked for the preparation of a probation report and remanded Mr Walker on bail until February 12, 2020 for sentencing.