A cocaine dealer serving ten years for carrying a stash of drugs in Cork was released after serving half of his sentence — having been told on his sentencing day he had everything to play for in terms of rehabilitating in prison.
Stephen Hawkins was jailed in 2016 but the case was listed for review after five years.
Now at Cork Circuit Criminal Court Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin asked if there were any adverse reports against the accused from prison. It was confirmed that he had undertaken a number of courses, rehabilitated and had tested negative in all drug screenings.
The judge also noted that the prison governor’s report on Hawkins was favourable.
“I will suspend the balance of the sentence from today,” Judge Ó Donnabháin told the defendant who appeared by video link from prison.
The accused was a cocaine addict at the time of his crime and who admitted transporting €16,000 worth of cocaine from Limerick to the Blarney area of Cork.
Now retired Detective Sergeant Lar O’Brien testified in 2016 time the drugs squad got a confidential call about drugs being transported in a particular car on that day.
The car belonged to Stephen Hawkins of Spriggs Road, Gurranabraher, Cork, and he was stopped after a surveillance operation was mounted on the Limerick to Cork road on July 4, 2015.
The car was identified at Watergrasshill and followed to Ballymartin, Blarney, County Cork, where gardaí stopped it. Hawkins was alone in the car and the cocaine was in a bag in the boot, with a smaller quantity in a pouch in the car.
He told investigating gardaí initially that he did not know what drug he was carrying or its quantity. Later he admitted knowing it was cocaine.
Det. Sgt. O’Brien said the accused told them he got a call that morning at work asking him to move the drugs and he thought about it and decided he would.
He initially said he was to be paid a small amount of money to transport the cocaine but also said it was to be offset against a drugs debt which he had.
In 2011 he was given a suspended six-year sentence for a similar offence of having drugs in his possession.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin sentenced him to ten years for having the drugs for sale or supply at Ballymartin.
The judge said on the sentencing day he would review the sentence in five years but he told the accused that if he wanted to have any chance of being released in 2021 he would have to show that he had taken every step available to rehabilitate while in prison.
“Everything is to play for,” the judge told Hawkins five years ago.