A drug addict who sold cannabis for a drug dealer was granted garda clearance to travel to China to teach English while he awaited his trial, a court heard.
Donal Walker, aged 31, was given a three-year suspended sentence on pleading guilty at Limerick Circuit Court, to possession of €23,000 worth of cannabis for sale or supply, contrary to section 15(A) on June 2, 2012.
When gardaí raided Walker’s home in Kilbane, Castletroy, Co Limerick, they discovered bags of cannabis, €11,800 in cash, a set of weigh scales, and a tick list of the names of people who were buying drugs from him. Walker immediately pleaded guilty to his involvement, the court heard.
Judge Tom O’Donnell said: “Gardaí are satisfied [Walker] was acting under substantial duress.”
After his arrest, Walker was granted garda clearance to travel to China to teach English.
After working there for four months, he returned to Limerick and pleaded guilty.
Judge O’Donnell said he had read a “very positive probation report”, which outlined that Walker “had taken steps to deal with his drug habit” and that he has “severed all links with criminality”.
Gardaí had obtained a search warrant for Walker’s residence after “obtaining confidential information” that he was selling drugs.
“He had developed an acute drug habit and was pressurised to be a drug dealer,” said Judge O’Donnell.
The judge noted the market value of the drugs seized was “substantial by any stretch of the imagination” and there were “clear signs of drug dealing” at Walker’s house.
Walker, he said, had faced a maximum sentence of life in jail or a prescriptive mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
However, the court accepted that there had been extenuating circumstances, allowing it to impose a lesser sentence.
The court heard that Walker had obtained a business degree and that his employers were aware of his “difficulties”.
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