€6.4m heroin-transportation trial starts

A Dublin man has gone on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accused of transporting €6.4m worth of heroin.

A Dublin man has gone on trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court accused of transporting €6.4m worth of heroin.

Michael Byrne (aged 38) of Old Tower, Clondalkin has pleaded not guilty to possession of 32 kilogram's of the drug which were found in wrapped brown parcels in the back of a van on January 15, 2008 in the Kilmore Road area in Dublin 20. He has also denied being in possession of two smaller amounts of the drug on the same date.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Mr Sean Gillane SC, said it would be that State’s case that Byrne was seen transporting the drugs around west Dublin by a garda surveillance team.

He told the jury that gardaí observed Byrne leave his house in the early afternoon with his wife and child. They drove in a jeep to Kilmore Road where they met a man who was waiting in a Volkswagen van. The man got in Byrne’s jeep and was driven to Dublin Airport where he was dropped off.

Mr Gillane said gardaí continued observing Byrne and saw him make two more stops, where he and his wife briefly got out before driving home.

He said there would be testimony that at around 5.15pm Byrne left the house again, this time on his own and drove to where he had earlier picked up the man. He got out of his jeep and into the van which had been left there.

He did a lap of an estate, parked the van and got out. Mr Gillane said he opened up the back doors and started putting brown packages into a plastic bag. Gardai moved in and Byrne fled into California Hills Park.

As he ran he allegedly threw away his phone and smaller quantities of drugs before being caught by gardaí. Byrne admitted giving the man a lift to the airport and going back to get the van but said he did not know what it contained. He claimed he first became aware of the heroin when he got in and panicked so tried to get rid of it.

The court also saw maps and photographs of the relevant areas including aerial views of the park where Byrne was caught.

The trial continues before Judge Frank O’Donnell and a jury of seven men and five women.

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