John Heaphy was caught with a large coffee jar full of ecstasy tablets in his hands after a three-day stakeout in an unkempt field in Rathpeacon, Co Cork.
Heaphy, aged 56, from 59 Kerryhall Road, Fairhill, Cork, was sentenced yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court for having €47,000 worth of illegal drugs.
Judge Patrick J Moran said: “I have seen the harm done by drugs in this courtroom; young men coming in here shattered and in bits, all because they can buy drugs freely in this city.”
The accused man pleaded for leniency: “I know I am going to get jail, I will be a better person [after counselling in prison], I know you are a good judge and a good judge of character. I am asking you please don’t turn your back on me.”
On the issue of not telling the drugs squad who sold him the drugs, Heaphy said: “If I said any names they would come along and shoot me if I grassed them up or something like that.”
Heaphy said he would like to give something back to society and talk to school children about the dangers of drugs.
The key issue in the case was the value of drugs. Heaphy claimed the tablets were worth somewhere between €1 and €3 each.
The jury disagreed and accepted the street value of €10 per tablet given by the gardaí.
The significance of this valuation is that having drugs worth more than €13,000 carries on conviction a sentence of up to life imprisonment with a minimum mandatory term of 10 years.
Detective Sergeant Lar O’Brien, who was involved in the stakeout, said Heaphy was interviewed three times over a two-day period after his arrest.
“He did make admissions on his own involvement but was of no material assistance on the origin or destination of the drugs,” the detective said.
Heaphy told him he had destroyed the lives of family members by his involvement in the dealing of drugs.
“He admitted being involved in the supply of drugs over a 20-year period and that drug dealing was his way of life and he knew nothing else… He was involved in a multi-million euro drugs enterprise,” Det Sgt O’Brien said.
Heaphy admitted that he had MDMA, better known as ecstasy, and that he was in possession of the drugs for the purpose of selling or supplying to others at Rathpeacon near the Old Mallow Road on the outskirts of Cork city on Saturday, December 14, 2007.
He claimed the 4,735 ecstasy tablets which he had concealed in two coffee jars in a cushion in a field were worth less than €13,000.
Defence witnesses said in the trial in June that ecstasy could be bought at a cost of €20 for 10 and that one could not buy less than 10.
Det Sgt O’Brien said the street value of an ecstasy tablet was €10 each.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Quilter of the Garda National Drugs Unit also testified that the street value per tablet was €10.