A Blarney man on trial for having more than €100,000 worth of heroin for sale or supply in August 2016 changed his plea to guilty today.
Garrett Hill of The View, Gleann Na Rí, Tower, Blarney, County Cork, had pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday. However, prosecution senior counsel Siobhán Lankford said at the outset of the case today that there had been a development in the case and that the accused man could be re-arraigned in front of the jury.
Hill, 38, then replied, ‘Guilty’, to the two charges on which he was arraigned. He admitted having Diamorphine, better known as heroin, for sale or supply at a Cork Builders Providers property in Togher on August 25, 2016, and having heroin for sale or supply at an apartment at Blarney shopping centre on the same date.
What the jury did not know was that Hill had already pleaded guilty to another drug-dealing offence at his home in Blarney in January 2017 at a time when he was on bail for the August 2016 offence.
It was acknowledged by the defence that Hill now faced sentencing for the August 2016 offences and the January 2017 drug-dealing and that because he was on bail for the first offences when he committed the second drugs crime the jail sentences would have to be consecutive.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan was asked to extend legal aid so that defence senior counsel Anthony Sammon could represent the accused in both cases and he acceded to this application.
Hill had been due to be sentenced next month on the January 17 drug-dealing. However, both cases are now listed for sentencing together on July 4 when a full background will be outlined on how both crimes came to be committed and detected. Judge O’Callaghan remanded Hill in custody until that date.
The judge thanked the six women and six men of the jury who had been sworn in to hear the case.
Ms Lankford outlined the allegations in the August 2016 case and said members of An Garda Síochána were watching an apartment at Blarney shopping centre where a particular man – not Garrett Hill – was living. Ms Lankford said it was alleged that the defendant arrived in a grey Seat car with this man and they went to the apartment and drove away to a Cork Builders Providers car park where other gardaí would say that they saw a blue Volkswagen van park beside the Seat.
She said it would be alleged by the prosecution that Hill got out of his car carrying a package the size of a tennis ball, got into the passenger seat of the Volkswagen and the glove compartment was seen to open.
Gardaí arrived, Hill attempted to leave but was arrested and the package in the glove compartment was found to contain €7,700 worth of heroin. And that in a follow-up search of the apartment in Blarney, €96,000 worth of heroin was found.
In respect of the January 2017 seizure of drugs, the only evidence given in relation to that was when he was first charged and applied unsuccessfully for bail. It was stated that drugs squad officers observed Hill in the act of bagging cannabis and weighing it in his house and that they also had CCTV evidence.