A Westmeath “rampant addict” who picked up a van loaded with heroin valued €1.6m because of his €25,000 “drugs debt” has had his sentence adjourned so that he can be psychologically assessed.
Gerard Matthews (aged 30) of Grange Village, Mullingar told gardai he was told €1,000 would be taken off his “drugs debt” and that he “could not walk away from the situation” when he received a call ordering him to collect the vehicle from a McDonald's carpark in Ballyfermot.
Sargeant Brendan Breen agreed with defence counsel, Ms Mary Ellen Ring SC, that Matthews felt he had no option but to comply with the request that was made of him and he believed that if he had ignored it there would have been “detrimental consequences”.
Matthews pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the drugs for sale or supply at the N4 Lucan by-pass on May 26, 2007.
He also admitted to robbery of €640 from Centra in Rathmines four day previously and to production of a knife during the course of the raid.
Judge Katherine Delahunt adjourned the case to October and ordered updated psychological and urine analysis reports.
Sargent Breen told Mr Remy Farrell BL, prosecuting, that gardaí had a surveillance operation underway at the McDonald's carpark on Kylemore Road following receipt of confidential information.
They saw Matthews leave a car his girlfriend was driving and get into the van and leave the carpark. He stopped at filling stations and appeared to put air in the tyres before gardaí pulled the van over on the N4.
Matthews immediately told gardaí he presumed there was drugs in the van when they told him they had stopped him for the purposes of a search.
Sargent Breen said the heroin wasn't found until the vehicle was thoroughly searched at Blanchardstown garda station where they were recovered from a concealed compartment under the front seats.
Matthews cooperated with the garda investigation and told them he had been promised that €1,000 would be taken off his €25,000 drug debt if he agreed to deliver the drugs elsewhere.
Sargent Breen told Ms Ring (with Mr Philipp Rahn BL) that he was aware that Matthews had a long standing heroin addict and that he had started smoking the drug at the age of 13.
He agreed that Matthews had shown all the signs of a long term drug habit during his detention at the garda station but looked substantially healthier now.
Sargent Breen said Matthews had made it “very clear” during interview that he knew he was carrying a “substantial amount” of heroin and he knew he was doing wrong.
Garda Leona Murphy told prosecuting counsel, Ms Lisa Dempsey BL, that Matthews was easily recognised by the staff in the Centra shop he raided because he was a regular customer there.
He took €640 from the cash register after holding the knife at staff and making stabbing gestures with it.
Matthews was arrested eight days later when he admitted that he knew he would be recognised by the staff but accepted a suggestion by gardai that it was “an act of desperation”.
Garda Murphy agreed with Mr Rahn that Matthews could be described as a “rampant drug addict” who had committed the crime to feed his addiction. He told gardai that he was sorry for the emotional pain he had caused staff and customers.