A cocaine addict with a history of serious drug offences has been jailed for 12 years for possessing €1m worth of heroin in a car at the M50 Toll Plaza outside Dublin.
Kieran Fitzpatrick (aged 31) finished a four-year drug sentence in 2005 but claimed he’d been under "a lot of pressure" to clear €40,000 he owed to drug dealers and agreed to take part in the heroin job.
Gardaí arrested Fitzpatrick and Thomas Whelan (aged 28), who got a seven-year sentence last month at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, with 10 half-kilo heroin blocks in a black Nissan Micra on August 9, 2007.
Fitzpatrick, of Oak Drive, Royal Oak, Santry and Whelan, of Coultry Avenue, Ballymun were covered in blue ink from the carbon paper wrapping on the heroin blocks when arrested. They pleaded guilty to possessing the drugs at the M50 Toll en route to Dublin.
Detective Garda Ronan Cowley of the Garda National Drugs Unit said he and his colleagues followed an Iveco Van loaded with cargo boxes from a Blanchardstown industrial estate to another in Newbridge, Co Kildare during a surveillance operation.
He told prosecution counsel, Mr Patrick McGrath BL, that Whelan pulled up with Fitzpatrick in the Nissan Micra and took heroin blocks, which were stashed in a cooker, from the back of the van.
Whelan passed the drugs to van driver Michael Stokes, who gave them to Fitzpatrick in the Micra’s driver seat. Stokes (aged 50) of St Dominic’s Park, Newbridge was jailed for seven years for his role in the operation last October.
Gardaí followed Whelan and Fitzpatrick as they drove out of the industrial estate and arrested them at the toll plaza.
Det Gda Cowley agreed with defence counsel, Ms Mary Ellen Ring SC, that her client told gardaí he had been threatened about his €40,000 drug debt and thought he could help clear it by transporting the heroin.
Ms Ring submitted that: "To say (Fitzpatrick’s) addiction has brought devastation to his family is an understatement."
Judge Martin Nolan said he had "no discretion" in imposing this sentence because of Fitzpatrick’s previous drugs conviction but directed that the matter come under review after eight years.