Man jailed for stashing and taxiing drugs

Galway Daily news

A man who was caught storing and couriering €169,000 worth of drugs around Galway received a three year sentence at Galway Circuit Court this week.

Patrick Clarke (30), of Bin Sin on the Western Distributor Road pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of drugs with the intent to sell or otherwise supply them.

Sgt Darren Griffin told Galway Circuit Court this week that on October 11 of 2018, Gardaí from the Divisional Drugs Unit observed Clarke driving into an underground car park.

Another man exited the car carrying a large bag. When Gardaí stopped and searched him, they found 1kg of cannabis inside.

Clarke was arrested and a follow up search carried out at his apartment on the Western Distributor Road.

In the apartment Gardaí found only small amounts of cannabis and two scales.

But in a suspect vehicle at this location they uncovered another 3kg of cannabis, and over 40,000 tablets of alprazolam, often sold as xanax.

The total street value of the drugs found by Gardaí was approximately €169,000, including approximately €79,000 worth of cannabis, and €80,000 worth of xanax tablets.

Clarke was interview by Gardaí three times, and on the third occasion became fully cooperative, Sgt Griffin told the court.

He said that he had sourced a vehicle to store drugs for others, and brought the other man around town to deliver them to various locations.

The defence said, and Sgt Griffin agreed, that Clarke had become involved in this drugs operation after running up a debt in his own cannabis habit.

“Effectively he was a taxi man, or a courier, for people up the food chain,” Mr Clarke’s barrister said.

He did personally profit from this enterprise “save that his drug debt was being abated”, but instead “he’s the man with the stuff in his car when the Gardaí come calling.”

Clarke pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity the defence said. The case was first listed for March, but was put back to June as court cases were being blanket adjourned at that time, at which point he entered a plea.

The Circuit Court heard that Clarke is a chef at a hotel in Galway, where he is well liked and respected by his colleagues, several of whom were in court to support him.

A probation report before the court wasn’t “all roses”, but showed great promise for his future after a past where he was “a little bit too acquainted with the District Court,” the defence said.

Clarke has not come to any Garda attention in the two years since this offence occured

Jude Francis Comerford said that this was a serious offence, with a significant amount of drugs involved, and that Clarke had more control over them, via storage, than if he was just a mule.

But he accepted that he had been drawn into this through his own addictions having “chalked up” a debt he could never repay, and gave material assistance to the Gardaí.

The judge said that he couldn’t deal with this case in a way that didn’t involve a custodial sentence, “Although I have sympathy with Mr Clarke for the difficulties he has had in life”, and respects the way that he has turned his life around.

Judge Comerford imposed a three year prison sentence, but suspended the final 18 months for a year and a half.