A court has heard that drug dealers used the home of a vulnerable intellectually disabled man to stash just under €100,000 worth of ecstasy tablets, writes Sonya McLean.
John Freer (43) was living in “diabolic personal circumstances”, Michael Bowman SC, defending told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
“His one friend in the world was his dog,” Mr Bowman continued before he added that Freer's home had no cooker and no fridge.
Mr Bowman told the court that Freer never left his mother's side as a child and a teenager. She went into hospital when he was 17 years old and never came home. She died when he was 18 and he has been living alone since.
Counsel said that Freer should have had been linked in with social services but this didn't happen until gardaí raided his home. He has since been moved into a more appropriate residential setting where his needs are met.
Freer, previously of Buirg An Ri Walk, Balgaddy, Lucan, Co Dublin, pleaded guilty to knowingly permitting the preparation of controlled drugs at his home on August 10, 2015. He has no previous convictions.
The drugs were valued at €108,110 for the ecstasy and €3,500 for Diazepam.
Garda Sean Fitzgerald told Karl Finnegan BL, prosecuting, that Freer's home was searched after gardaí received information from a concerned neighbour about activity in the house. A surveillance operation was put in place before the warrant was secured.
Gda Fitzgerald said gardaí believe that Freer was approached by others and asked if the drugs could be stored in his home. It is understood that he wasn't paid for his role.
He said that gardaí were so concerned about Freer's ability to comprehend what was happening that they called for a social worker to assist him during garda interview.
Gda Fitzgerald agreed with Mr Bowman that these others were “well known to the gardaí as being involved in drugs” and were “shrewd” at identifying vulnerable people in isolation.
The 10,810 tablets were found in a closet in the hall along with two white plastic containers labelled Diazepam.
Gda Fitzgerald said there was nothing to connect Freer to the drugs forensically. His fingerprints weren't even on the bags the tablets were stored in.
Judge Martin Nolan said to describe it as a “sad case is an understatement” before he suspended an 18-month prison sentence on strict conditions.
He said Freer was probably not able to cope by himself and was taken advantage of.
“By reason of his incapacities, he has little or no moral culpability for this crime,” Judge Nolan said.