WATERFORD District Court heard how Gardaí observed a drug transaction taking place near Lismore Park before four deals of heroin was found in the pocket of a man, who had arrived in the country days prior to being stopped and searched.
Kestutius Zemantauskas (35) of no fixed abode appeared before Waterford District Court on Tuesday, September 17 charged with possession of diamorphine (heroin) and possession of four deals of heroin for sale and supply.
Sergeant Gavin Sheehan said on August 20 at 1.40pm he was on duty in an unmarked patrol car with Garda Gary Mythen, Garda Sean Cuddy and Garda Blanchfield. They were patrolling an area near Lismore Park known for dealing heroin. He observed a male Zemantauskas, who was known to the Sergeant as a heroin user and a dealer. He was walking three or four paces ahead of a female. Zemantauskas took something from his pocket and handed it to the female who in turn put it into her mouth. Sergeant Sheehan said he was aware that a drugs transaction had occurred. He asked the female to remove what she had placed in her mouth and she spat out what he believed to be one deal of heroin into his hand. The female was very upset and was crying.
Garda Mythen told the court that he searched the male and recovered four deals of heroin from his pocket. He was arrested and conveyed to Waterford Garda Station where he made no admissions apart from being a heroin user. Garda Cuddy also gave a matching account to the court.
Giving evidence through an interpreter Zemantauskas said the woman he was with offered to share the deal of heroin as the day before that they shared one. He didn’t accept the offer and they were about to go their separate ways when they were stopped. Zemantauskas was searched, but he claimed Gardaí found nothing. “I can guarantee a million percent that I didn’t have it,” he said. However, he admitted that earlier on that day he used drugs at around 10am.
Under cross examination Inspector Mark Carley asked Zemantauskas why he was in Lismore Park on the date in question. Responding Zemantauskas said he went to Tesco and was walking around the area. He said the female was “kind of” known to him. The Inspector put it to the witness that he expected the court to believe that it was the female who was in possession of the drugs and it was her who was offering the drugs.
Continuing the Inspector stated that he had admitted being a heroin user, being in an area known to be frequented by drug users and was in the company of a woman who offered him drugs. Zemantauskas stated that the day before they shared drugs in another area, and denied that he was lying about being in possession of heroin at Lismore Park.
Solicitor Hilary Delahunty said, admittedly, the fact that his client was only in the country for a few days and was in the company of a heroin user “all screams that he was in the possession of heroin”. However, he was adamant that he did not have the heroin on him. Nor did he accept that he was a drug dealer. Therefore, there was no point expressing sorrow or regret on behalf of his client. Zemantauskas came from Lithuania and has no family in Ireland. Mr Delahunty asked Judge Kevin Staunton to give his client the benefit of the doubt.
Judge Staunton said he had to take into account mitigating factors. However, the content of the three Garda’s evidence was “consistent and credible”, and he had no doubt that it represented the factual situation. Judge Staunton said it was clear that Zemantauskas came to Ireland a few days before he was apprehended for the selling of heroin and that was his purpose for coming here. The Court, he said, had to take a very strict view of the offence, adding that a custodial sentence was unavoidable. In respect to the possession charge he convicted and sentenced Zemantauskas to six months in prison. He handed down a 12 month sentence for the sale and supply charge and backdated it to August 21. Recognisance was fixed in his own bond of €2,000. A court surety was required in his bond of €2,000 with a cash lodgement of €1,200.