A major drug dealer who has been active in a multi-million euro drugs enterprise in Cork city for over twenty years was jailed today for twelve years with the last five years of that sentence suspended today.
Detective Sergeant Lar O’Brien said that after a three-day stakeout at an unkempt field in Rathpeacon, County Cork, John Heaphy was caught with a large coffee jar full of ecstasy tables in his hands.
Heaphy, aged 56, from 59 Kerryhall Road, Fairhill, Cork, was sentenced for having €47,000 worth of the 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 yesterday: “I know I am going to get jail, I will be a better person (after counseling 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 had this to say: “If I said any names they would come along and shoot me if I grassed them up or something like that.”
He 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 the drugs. Heaphy claimed the tablets were worth somewhere between €1 and €3 each. A 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 ten years.
Heaphy admitted at Cork Circuit Criminal Court 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 that the 4,735 ecstasy tablets which he had concealed in two Maxwell House 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 ten and that one could not buy less than ten.
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.