Dealer given second chance jailed

Harry Clifton

Gardaí arrested a man who jumped bail in a case where his dealing of a synthetic drug resulted in the death of a teenager.

Harry Clifton was arrested by Detective Danny McEnery at a house on Magazine Road, Cork, on Sunday. It was alleged that Clifton had hash under his bed and ketamine under the blanket.

Judge Gerard O’Brien had imposed a two-year sentence on Clifton back in November 2016 with 18 months of that suspended for his part in the supply of the synthetic drug N-bomb. Eighteen-year-old Alex Ryan, of Liscahane, Millstreet, Co Cork, died on January 23, 2016, after taking the drug.

The probation service re-entered the case at Cork Circuit Criminal Court because of his failure to co-operate, and the judge gave Clifton a second chance not to have the balance of the sentence activated and to engage again with the probation service. Probation re-entered the case and Clifton failed to appear in court for that re-entry earlier this year.

Judge O’Brien said that yesterday Clifton got a chance not once, but twice, against a background where the court came in for what he described as extreme public criticism for the leniency of the approach.

The judge said that what was most alarming was Clifton’s lack of insight and that a man had died as a result of his drug activity.

The case had to be re-entered at Cork Circuit Criminal Court by the probation service because of Clifton’s failure to show up for appointments and his continued use of cannabis.

Judge O’Brien gave Clifton another chance in October 2017 to engage with the Probation Service and put the case back a second time.

Yesterday the judge said he had no option but to revoke the suspension and impose the sentence in full. Clifton now commences the remaining 18 months of his sentence.

Gareth Fleming, defending, said Clifton had not been calculated or cynical in his failure to take the chances but had simply been unable to do so. He said both times the defendant tried to turn his life around but drifted back each time.

At the original sentencing hearing in November 2016, Judge O’Brien referred to the young people being in an orgy of drink and drugs consumption.

The investigation took place against the background of Alex Ryan’s death after he sniffed the synthetic drug at a party in Greenmount, Cork, at the beginning of 2016.

Detective Garda McEnery said the investigation commenced following the admission of several young people to hospital after they had taken a drug at a party in Greenmount. Most of the people at the party were students aged around 20.

One of those young people was Alex Ryan and he died in hospital after ingesting the drug nasally.

Investigations brought drugs squad officers to the door of Harry Clifton, aged 29, whose address at the time was 11 St Finbarr’s Place, Proby’s Quay, Cork, as their information was that the drug had been sourced from Clifton. 

Clifton had supplied 12 ‘trips’ of the drug to others. Through these channels, the drug was brought to the party in Greenmount.

Detective Garda McEnery said Clifton was not a drug addict and his motivation was profit. He had previous convictions for drug possession and cultivation.

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