A Dublin drug addict has been jailed for six years today for possession of almost €3m worth of heroin hidden inside three fire extinguishers.
The 38-year-old drug father-of-two claimed he was asked to hold the drugs, after amassing drug debts of around €2,000.
Patrick Maguire, of Mount Andrew Court, Lucan, Co. Dublin, pleaded guilty to possession of heroin worth approximately €2,956,000 on May 27, 2012.
Garda Ciaran O’Neill told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that a warrant to search Maguire’s house was granted due to information from an anonymous source.
When gardai arrived at the property, they asked Maguire if they would find anything illegal inside.
Dublin Circuit Court heard that he became visibly nervous, and told them they would find “a bit of smoke and a weighing scales.”
Gda O’Neill said he noticed six fire extinguishers in one of the rooms and tested one of them in the back garden of the house. He became suspicious when no foam sprayed out, despite the gauge saying the canister was full.
When questioned about the contents of the fire extinguishers, Maguire eventually admitted that they were full of heroin. He was arrested and brought to Clondalkin Garda Station, and the fire extinguishers were sent for x-ray.
Gda O’Neill said that three of the canisters were empty, while the other three contained just over five kilos of heroin each.
The court heard that 19.71 kilos of heroin was recovered from the canisters, with a street value of roughly €2,956,000.
Gda O’Neill agreed with Caroline Biggs SC, that Maguire was holding the drugs for someone else after amassing drug debts of about €2,000.
Maguire has no previous convictions and has been addicted to heroin since his teens.
At the time of his arrest, he was smoking between 25 and 30 heroin-laced joints every day. Maguire refused to reveal the names of the people who owned the drugs, as he feared for his safety and said his life would be at risk.
Ms Biggs said her client was “overwhelmed” when told the total value of the drugs and said everything had “snowballed” when he got involved with holding the drugs. She described Maguire as “very co-operative” with the garda investigation and noted his early guilty plea.
Gda O’Neill agreed that he was not on the radar of the gardai up until this incident, and said he would be “very surprised” if he re-offended when released from prison.
Judge Martin Nolan said it was clear that Maguire was “at the lower rung of the ladder” and was only holding the heroin in order to pay off a drugs debt.
He took into account his personal circumstances, but described him as a mature adult and said he must have known that he was holding “a huge amount of heroin.”
Judge Nolan said: “It seemed he had a chronic drug problem which lead him astray,” but described it as “inconceivable” that he didn’t know what he was holding.
Judge Nolan sentenced Maguire to six years in prison backdated to his date of arrest.