A dealer was found with almost €20,000 worth of heroin in his car five weeks after he had tried to rob a petrol station at gunpoint.
Chris Goldbey, Fana Burca, Knocknacarra, set fire to the Audi A4 he had used during the attempted armed robbery at Monaghan’s garage on the Tuam Road in the early hours of May 10 last year.
Swabs taken from an imitation ‘Desert Eagle’ 6mm pistol – which was found near the burnt-out car – matched a DNA swab taken from Goldbey following his arrest later that same day.
The 26-year-old, who is currently serving a three-year sentence imposed on him by a court in Dublin last February for drug dealing, appeared before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last week for sentence in relation to the Galway offences.
He had pleaded guilty to having heroin in his possession which was for sale or supply to another at Cappagh Road on Friday, June 23, 2017.
He also pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted robbery at Monaghan’s garage on May 10 last year.
Sentence was adjourned to this week for the preparation of reports on Goldbey and to obtain victim impact statements from two members of staff at Monaghan’s 24-hour filling station.
Detective Gerry Carroll told the hearing Goldbey entered the petrol station shop at 3.27am and pointed a handgun at two male members of staff.
He demanded they hand over money but they refused and told him to “clear off”.
Goldbey left the shop and threw the handgun onto the floor behind the driver’s seat of his black Audi A4 which was parked in the forecourt. He then took out a length of iron bar, believed to be a piece of scaffolding and went back into the shop, where he again threatened both men. They stood firm and refused to hand over any money, telling Goldbey to “clear off” again.
Goldbey fled the scene in the Audi, which was found burnt out near the Menlo Park Hotel, a short distance away.
Det Carroll said Gardai used the registration on the Audi to trace Goldbey, who had recently bought the car.
Det Carroll said both staff members had not been adversely affected by the attempted robberies and were still working in the shop.
He said Goldbey had 76 previous convictions, 42 of which were for road traffic offences. The remainder included ten for burglaries, four for criminal damage, six for thefts, three for drug dealing, two for possession of drugs and the remainder for public order offences.
He said the accused was currently serving a three-year sentence imposed last February in Dublin.
Mr Bernard Madden SC, defending, said the gun was clearly an imitation and the staff in the shop knew that and had not taken his client seriously.
Garda Rob Molloy gave evidence in relation to the separate heroin-dealing charge. He said he stopped a blue Avensis being driven by Goldbey at 12.45am on June 23 last year on the Cappagh Road.
A search of the car revealed a black plastic bag which contained nine bags of heroin weighing almost 140 grams with an estimated street value of €19,474, or €140 per gram.
This offence, he said, occurred five weeks after the attempted robberies at Monaghan’s garage.
Mr Madden said his client had started abusing substances aged 13 and had spent half of his life since then involved in criminality to feed his addictions.
“He was completely ‘off his head’ on drugs when both of these offences occurred. He needs help,” Mr Madden said of his client.
The court heard that Goldbey’s prison release date for the Dublin sentence will be March 2020.
Judge Rory McCabe said Goldbey had been “busy breaking the law for a long number of years” and these recent, serious offences merited lengthy custodial sentences.
He said Goldbey had been referred to the probation service on no less than six occasions by various courts in the past – at the taxpayer’s expense – in an attempt to get him to deal with his addictions but this clearly had not worked.
The judge also noted Goldbey remained at a high risk of reoffending according to the latest probation report before the court.
He said the headline sentence for both the drug-dealing and attempted robbery charges was nine years, before mitigating factors were taken into account.
Goldbey’s early plea was identified as the only mitigating factor and Judge McCabe gave him a third off for that, bringing the sentence down to six years for each offence to run concurrently.
He suspended the final two years of each sentence for five years with the aim that Goldbey come under the supervision of the probation service for 18 months on his release from prison and undertake all rehabilitation and training courses as the service saw fit. He also directed Goldbey be afforded all necessary treatment and counselling for his addictions while in prison.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.
Water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna due to burst watermain
Galway Bay fm newsroom – There are water outages across Knocknacarra and Barna this morning due to a burst watermain
The burst is in a rising main from Clifton Hill in Galway City to Tonabrucky Reservoir
The city council and Irish Water says while every effort is being made to maintain supply to as many customers as possible, the burst has caused water levels in Tonabrucky Reservoir to deplete
Houses and businesses in Knocknacarra, Barna and surrounding areas will experience low pressure and outages.
Dedicated water service crews have mobilised and repairs are underway and are expected to be completed by mid-afternoon.
Traffic management will be in place and Letteragh Road will be closed between Sliabh Rua and Tonabrucky Cross until 6pm.
Householders and businessses are being asked to conserve water where possible to reduce the pressure on local supplies and allow reservoir levels to restore.