Detective Garda Jason Wallace outlined how the deaths of Michael Coleman and Liam Coffey, both aged 22, at a rented house at Abbey Lane in Kinsale on September 10, 2012, sparked a major investigation into the source of the fatal consignment, and an unprecedented campaign to get the batch off the streets.
David McGrath, aged 25, and John O’Dwyer, aged 26, both with an address at 23 Roman St, Cork, David Maguire, aged 31, of 8 Harley Court, Togher, Cork, and Victoria McCormack, aged 22, of Cornmill apartments, Connell St, Cork, all pleaded guilty to a drug supply charge arising out of the case.
All four defendants admitted having a powder containing MDMA (or ecstasy powder) and another drug known as PMMA or paramethyoxymethylamphetamine, for sale or supply at different locations in Cork city on various dates between September 7 and 10, 2012.
Det Garda Wallace said all four were links in the chain of supply which saw the lethal powder being bought and consumed by Mr Coffey and Mr Coleman.
Both deceased men, who were originally from Co Waterford, were pronounced dead by a local GP at Mr Coleman’s rented house at Abbey Lane in Kinsale.
The GP, paramedics and gardaí had been called by Mr Coleman’s girlfriend Ciara Drummey after both men took ill after ingesting the lethal mixture of MDMA and PMMA.
Det Garda Wallace said that all four defendants were not aware at the time that the mixture contained PMMA, which is slower acting than MDMA but highly toxic.
Gardaí began an investigation and established that Mr Coffey had contacted McGrath a week previously looking for 3 grammes of powdered ecstasy, known on the street as Mandy.
McGrath was sharing a flat at the time in Roman St in Cork with O’Dwyer, who contacted McCormack, who in turn contacted Maguire, to obtain some of the drug to supply O’Dwyer.
Maguire sold an ounce — approximately 28gms — of the drug to McCormack for €1,100 and she in turn sold a half ounce of the drug — approximately 14gms — to O’Dwyer for €700.
O’Dwyer then sold 3 grammes of the drug to McGrath for €240 and he in turn sold it to Mr Coffey for €240 in line with a street value of €80 a gramme, said Det Garda Wallace.
McGrath, who also sold 3gms of cannabis resin for €50 to Mr Coffey, was deeply shocked when he learned what had happened to the two deceased as he knew them both.
McGrath, O’Dwyer and McCormack all co-operated fully with gardaí when they were identified as being part of the supply chain for the drug to the two dead men, the court heard.
Det Garda Wallace said Maguire didn’t identify his supplier but he did help gardaí recover the remainder of the batch after the HSE issued a public health warning about the drug.
The court heard neither McGrath, O’Dwyer nor McCormack had any previous convictions, while Maguire had a previous conviction for drug dealing dating back to 2003.
McGrath, a native of Waterford, was the only one to know the deceased even though they were not in his immediate circle of friends.
Judge Donagh McDonagh said he wanted to consider the evidence and various reports submitted on behalf of the defendants and he remanded all four in custody until tomorrow.
Barristers for the four accused expressed deep remorse to the families of the dead men for the parts they played in supplying the drugs.
Siobhán Lankford, defending McGrath, asked for a suspended sentence saying society would not benefit from him being jailed.
Ben Shorten, defending O’Dwyer, quoted his client’s comment to gardaí, “I hate that I played a part in this. I was too stupid and blind to think anything bad could happen.”
Ray Boland, defending McCormack, said she and her friends consumed some of the same drugs that she supplied and they suffered only minor ill-effects.
Donal McCarthy, defending Maguire, acknowledged that his client had previous convictions but said he had played a very unusual and exceptional role in co-operating with gardaí, not in naming others, but in ensuring that a larger quantity of the fatal drug was in effect surrendered to gardaí.