Drug mule sentenced to four years for swallowing €16k worth of heroin

A father-of-two was acting as a “drugs mule” when he was arrested at Dublin Airport after swallowing over €16,000 worth of heroin, a court has heard.

A father-of-two was acting as a “drugs mule” when he was arrested at Dublin Airport after swallowing over €16,000 worth of heroin, a court has heard.

Joe Dignam (aged 47) of Geraldstown Woods, Santry Avenue pleaded guilty to possession of €18,866 worth of heroin for sale and supply at Dublin Airport and at Store Street Garda Station on January 25, 2011. He was sentenced to four years.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that after Dignam was arrested at the airport he was held in a garda station cell for two days until all the drugs had passed through his system.

Garda Stephen Rooney told Mr Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that he had received confidential information that Dignam was arriving from a Ryanair flight from Charleroi, Belgium with a quantity of drugs.

When Dignam was searched by customs officers they found 15g of heroin in his sock.

He was then brought to Store Street Garda Station and placed in a cell with a “dry toilet”. A further search by gardaí found 1g of heroin “secreted internally” on his person.

Gda Rooney said Dignam was then placed under observation in the cell as gardaí believed he had more heroin stored internally on him.

Shortly before midnight, Dignam’s period of detention was extended by 18 hours.

The court heard that at various stages he was observed sitting next to another small quantity of heroin that had passed through him.

In total Dignam had swallowed 111g of heroin. Along with the 15g hidden in his sock Dignam was caught with a total of just under 126g, with an estimated street value of €18,866.

Gda Rooney said he was afraid to name the people who had given him the drugs but said that his flights and accommodation had been booked by somebody else.

Mr Luigi Rea BL, defending, said that Dignam agreed to transport the drugs to pay off a drugs debt of €2,000 but that because he had been caught with them his debts had increased to €10,000.

Gda Rooney said he believed Dignam’s debt could now stand at up to €20,000.

Mr Rea said his client has a legitimate job as an occasional long distance lorry driver and he had just finished serving a prison term in Liverpool, where the idea of paying off his debt by transporting the drugs was put to him.

Judge Desmond Hogan said Dignam was a “mule” who was on the “lowest end of the ladder”.

He sentenced him to four years in prison but suspended the last 12 months.

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