A city man, who was handed 151 tablets covertly by his mother as he sat in Garda custody last year, failed to convince a judge that these were for his own use at Galway District Court.
Judge Mary Fahy commended the diligent work of a Garda, who was on prison escort duty at the time, for becoming suspicious of the package handed to the defendant by his mother in the cell area of the courthouse.
“Passing of drugs between families and prisoners is causing on-going disruption – they are never going to be rehabilitated, and the families are doing them no favours,” she said.
Michael ‘Sonny’ Barrett (26) denied having the diazepam (valium), alprazolam, and clonazepam for sale or supply in the cell area of the courthouse on December 4 2013. He is currently serving a five-year sentence at Castlerea Prison.
Garda Raymond O’Dowd told the court that he became aware during the preceding court appearance that people were trying to make contact with Barrett.
“After the case, I took him to the cell area, and his mother requested a visit,” he recalled.
“I supervised it; she wanted to give him some items – a cigarette, a newspaper, a pack of Amber Leaf tobacco, and a lighter.”
The Garda’s suspicions were heightened during the interaction, however, and he took the latter two items from the prisoner.
On closer examination, he noticed that the seal on the packet of tobacco had been tampered with, and cellotape used instead.
Inside it, he found three separate packages of various tablets – 64 blue ones, 61 pink ones, and 26 orange tablets – all ‘controlled drugs’ under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Garda O’Dowd said that Barrett claimed that his mother knew nothing about the drugs, that they had been sent in from “Frank”, and were all for his own use.
Solicitor for the defendant, Olivia Traynor, put it to the court that if it were to be accepted that these were for Barrett alone, he could not be prosecuted, and she requested that the matter be struck out.
However, Judge Fahy did not believe the story and said that, considering the huge number of tablets involved, Barrett had a case to answer.
The defendant reiterated that the tablets were for his own use, and that he had been consuming 15 tablets per day. He claimed that his head had been “wrecked from all the courts” at the time, but that he had since given up drugs and smoking.
“That didn’t even occur in my mind,” he said of the State’s claim that he had planned to sell the drugs to fellow prisoners in Castlerea Prison.
“What’s the point selling them in prison… I swore on the Bible. I’m a Traveller, I’m very Catholic.”
However, Judge Fahy did not accept Barrett’s evidence, remarking how shocked she was that this would occur after court proceedings.
Inspector Derek Gannon advised the court that the defendant was currently serving a five year sentence for robbery and assault, imposed at Galway Circuit Court last July.
Owing to the serious nature of the charge before her, Judge Fahy said that she had no other option but to add to that sentence.
“I normally wouldn’t, but for something to be passed in a courtroom situation is shocking, and has to be marked by a custodial sentence,” she said.
A nine month prison term was imposed, to be served on the lawful termination f the sentence currently being served.
Recognisances were fixed, in the event of an appeal, on his own surety of €500, and an independent surety of €1,000, half to be lodged by a party approved by the State.
Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash
A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.
Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.
The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.
The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.
The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.
Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them.
Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra
Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.
The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.
A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.
“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.
“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”
Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Galway during Storm Barra
Arrangements have been made to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers ahead of Storm Barra hitting Galway in the morning.
Accommodation will be provided at locations including The Glenoaks in the Westside, the Fairgreen in the city centre and Osterley Lodge in Salthill (Contact 085 8009709 or 085 8009641).
The COPE Galway Day Centre will remain open all day Tuesday from 8.30am to closing.
Meanwhile, Galway City Council has warned that a number of roads may be closed in the morning ahead of high tide, including Salthill Prom.
Following ongoing meetings of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination group today and based on the latest information available, a number of precautionary measures have been put in place.
- Closure of Silverstrand Beach at 6pm Monday
- Closure of Ballyloughane Beach at midnight (Local Traffic only)
- Closure of Rosshill Road at 6am Tuesday
- Closure of Salthill Promenade at midnight:
- Blackrock Tower to Seapoint and onto Grattan Road. (Closure of Grattan Road may be required. Monitoring in place to decide.)
- Potential closure of roads along the Claddagh, Docks and Spanish Arch from 5am Tuesday
A spokesperson said: “There may be further closures throughout the city as required and the situation will be closely monitored and regular updates given. Motorists will experience delays as a result.”
The carparks at Toft Park and on the Promenade have been closed and all vehicle owners have been asked to move their vehicles from car parks and along the Prom.
Sand bags are now available at the following manned locations: the former Tourist Kiosk in Salthill (behind Seapoint); Claddagh Hall; Galway Fire Station; Spanish Arch; the Docks (beside the pedestrian crossing at St Nicholas Street).
“Anyone who avails of sandbags should retain them in their possession for use throughout the upcoming winter season. Please do not take any more sandbags than you need,” the Council spokesperson said.
“The main impacts will include strong winds, falling trees and potential flooding. High tide in Galway Bay will be at 6.45am Tuesday.
“Some trees may be compromised due to saturated soils at the moment, and with more rain forecast with Storm Barra some disruption due to falling trees/branches is likely. Heavy rain, coupled with falling leaves may block drains and gullies, leading to surface flooding. Galway City Council staff have been carrying out drainage maintenance across the city in advance of the storm to minimise potential flooding risks.
“Storm Barra will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts,” the Council said.
Business owners and homeowners are advised to check their own drains and secure any loose objects within their property in advance of the warning taking effect.
“Galway City Council advises remaining indoors during the period of the warning and, as always, to avoid coastal areas. Parks and other wooded areas should also be avoided, due to the danger of falling trees. If absolutely essential to travel, please exercise extreme caution out and about especially on coastal roads and exposed shores.
“City Council staff will be on standby for clean-up following the passing of Storm Barra and the associated warning once it has been deemed safe to do so. Please note the associated clean-up which will commence on Wednesday morning may impact on traffic.”
Galway City Council Customer Services phone lines are available to deal with emergency calls on 091 536400. For the Galway County Council area, the phone number is 091 509069.