A man has been found guilty of possessing €1.35m in heroin that gardaí failed to find during a raid on a Kildare house but that was later found stashed, along with cocaine and an assault rifle, in the base of a bed.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Coffey said today that the “most critical” of the defendant's fingerprints were found on blocks of diamorphine, showing there had been "direct contact".
The judge further noted that there was "compelling evidence" to prove that the accused man knew there were drugs present in the base of a bed in a Co Kildare house.
However, Mr Justice Coffey said there was no evidence to connect the defendant with €1.5m worth of cocaine found in the same location and the court found him not guilty of this charge. He was also found not guilty of possessing €1,060 worth of cannabis.
During the trial, Garda Marguerite Reilly gave evidence that she took part in a search of Sallins Bridge in which she had searched a bedroom. Nothing of evidential value was found during the search, said Gda Reilly.
Under cross-examination by Dominic McGinn SC, defending, Gda Reilly said she had not searched underneath the bed in this bedroom as "it was a very fast-moving operation". Gda Reilly also said that she had not briefed anyone before she left the premises as to what search she had carried out in the bedroom.
Mr McGinn put it to the witness that it was the DPP’s contention that an assault rifle, various ammunition and drugs were found in this bedroom.
“You missed the fact that all these unlawful items may or may not have been in the bedroom at the time?” asked Mr McGinn. The witness replied that she had not searched the bed.
In her opening address to the court, prosecution counsel Fiona Murphy SC said the owner of Sallins Bridge came to clear out the premises four days later, on January 28. Ms Murphy said the owner found what appeared to be a large amount of controlled drugs and a firearm in the base of one of the beds.
A further search warrant was obtained and gardaí found €1.5m worth of cocaine, €1.26m worth of heroin and €1,000 worth of cannabis. Gardaí also seized a 7.62 x 39mm calibre VZ 58 assault rifle and a variety of ammunition, said Ms Murphy.
It was the State’s case that forensic evidence linked the accused man to some of the items found at the house in Naas and to the address itself.
Michael Brady (54), with an address in south Dublin was charged with possessing cocaine and heroin as well as more than 180 rounds of ammunition at a property at Sallins Bridge, Sallins, Naas, Co Kildare on January 24, 2017. He had pleaded not guilty to all seven counts on the indictment.
The accused man was found not guilty of possessing a 7.62 x 39mm calibre VZ 58 assault rifle by direction of the court in April. Another charge accusing him of possessing three ammunition magazines was also withdrawn by the State.
In February Declan Brady (52), a brother of the accused, pleaded guilty to possessing 15 firearms and more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition at Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, Co Dublin on January 24, 2017. He will be sentenced on June 24.
Delivering judgment today, Mr Justice Paul Coffey, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, said the defendant had been charged with seven offences, which all arose from the discovery of an “enormous quantity of drugs”.
The judge noted that Michael Brady was not "a target" of the surveillance operation, which took place at Greenogue Business Park on January 24, nor was he a person of interest to gardaí. The house at Sallins Bridge was under surveillance arsing from a belief by gardaí that there was a link between it and Declan Brady, said the judge.
Mr Justice Coffey outlined that Michael Brady had told gardaí in his interviews that he was looking after dogs belonging to his brother Declan at Sallins Bridge and had been living there for the previous eight months.
The defendant had also informed gardaí that he did not know why ammunition was in the house and he lived a separate life to his brother, said the judge, adding that he also denied involvement in any criminal organisation.
The judge said that the accused had given evidence in the trial that he was in Sallins Bridge to look after dogs and he knew nothing about drugs, a rifle or ammunition.
When asked about his fingermarks which were found on blocks of drugs in the base of the bed, the defendant said he could have accidentally touched the packets in the house without knowing he had done so, said the judge.
The prosecution’s case was that the accused’s fingerprints were found on six items in the base of a bed, including a block of diamorphine, said the judge, adding that the State’s case was further advanced by circumstantial evidence that Michael Brady had been living at the address “on and off” for about a year and had unrestricted access to the room in which the items were found.
Mr Justice Coffey said that the court was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that it was not an “unfortunate coincidence” that the defendant’s fingerprints were found on six items concealed under the base of the bed. Brady also chose to give a false name and address to gardaí upon his arrest, said the judge.
The court rejected the suggestion by the defence that it was reasonably possible that persons not before the court had entered the premises between January 24 and 28 and placed the drugs in the base of the bed.
The convicted man was remanded in custody until July 15, when he will be sentenced.
Closing the prosecution case in April, Fiona Murphy SC said the court could be satisfied that Michael Brady was in possession of the drugs at Sallins Bridge on January 24. There is no way his fingerprint could be on "a bar of the drugs" without his knowledge and there is strong support from an expert witness that this was his print, she said.
Ms Murphy said that Garda Marguerite Reilly gave “particularly relevant” evidence that she took part in the initial search of a small bedroom at Sallins Bridge on January 24 but said that she “did not go near” the bed.
Furthermore, Ms Murphy said that Michael Brady testified that he was living at Sallins Bridge for the purpose of looking after dogs. Counsel said it was “incredible” that a house would be rented for the purpose of giving dogs somewhere to live.
In conclusion, Ms Murphy said the court could draw a reasonable inference that Michael Brady had "knowledge and control" of the items found in the house.
In his closing speech, defence counsel Dominic McGinn SC said other people had visited Sallins Bridge between January 24 and 28 and the drugs could have got into the premises during this "interval".
Mr McGinn submitted that there was no proof that the drugs were in the house when his client was there. There was a “gap of four days” between when the accused man left the house on January 24 and when he returned on January 28, when the drugs were found, he said.
The barrister further argued that it was inconceivable that gardaí did not find firearms and ammunition on January 24 if they were there. If these items had been there they would have been found, he added. Mr McGinn said it was "interesting" that one witness had given evidence that there had been a “meticulous” initial search carried out by gardaí at Sallins Bridge on January 24.