Cork man who picked up €32k of cocaine to pay debt sent to prison

He had developed a €1,000 gambling debt and was told that by collecting this consignment of cocaine he would clear it.
Cork man who picked up €32k of cocaine to pay debt sent to prison

Paul Burke, who studied electrical engineering and worked in IT, was using cocaine and gambling. File photo: PA

Surveillance gardaí watched a well-educated man getting instructions by phone to go to a drugs pick-up and they arrested him moments later with a €32,000 stash of cocaine.

That was at Christmas 2019. Now the accused man has been sentenced to five years with the last two years suspended.

37-year-old Paul Burke of Coppinger’s View, Pope’s Quay, Cork, had no previous convictions of any kind.

Burke, who studied electrical engineering and worked in IT, was using cocaine and gambling. He developed a €1,000 debt from the betting and was told that by collecting this consignment of cocaine he would clear that debt.

Detective Garda Robert Kennedy said the accused only admitted his part and would not identify anyone else involved in the transaction or in the accrual of his gambling debt.

He pleaded guilty to drug-dealing charges arising out of the stash being found in his possession at Pope’s Quay on December 18, 2019.

Detective Garda Kennedy brought the charges, the most serious being a count of having cocaine and cannabis for sale or supply to others at a time when the street value of the drugs was €13,000 or more. This charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Det. Garda Kennedy said gardaí received confidential information that Paul Burke was going to receive and store a significant quantity of cocaine. A surveillance operation was put in place.

“Gardaí observed him at 9.20 p.m. leave his home and walk along Pope’s Quay where he was observed on a mobile phone getting directions of where to go. He walked along Pope’s Quay where there was a grey van parked. He got into the van and seconds later he exited the van with a package in his hand,” the detective said.

Defence barrister, Sinead Behan, said the accused got a very bad shock as a result of being remanded in custody since last November and found the experience very difficult.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said the accused knowingly got involved in drugs supply, namely cocaine distribution. “The fact that he was short of money is no excuse,” the judge said.

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