Sunday, April 18, 2021

A MAN, who was found with cocaine worth in the region of €3,000, has appeared before Waterford District Court. The 38-year-old was charged in June 2019 under Sections 3 and 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977, namely for possession of cocaine, and possession for the purposes of sale or supply.

Alan Hearne, a painter/decorator by trade, went out to meet with friends on the afternoon on June 23, 2019. Having consumed a large quantity of pints, he returned home. According to his solicitor, Ken Cunningham, Alan did not receive a “positive reception” on his arrival home to the house he shared with his wife and their three young children, and he left again.

In his heavily intoxicated state, he rang a friend and asked whether he had any cocaine. The answer was yes, and over the phone, his friend told him where he could find a bag of cocaine, instructing Alan to take the amount he needed, and to leave the rest. The court heard how the 38-year-old, instead of taking a measured amount, took the entire bag, worth an estimated street value of €3,200.

A call was made soon after to Waterford Garda Station by a member of the public to say that a man was sitting outside Hillbilly’s takeaway on John Street offering drugs to passersby. Gardaí attended the scene at 1:53am on the morning of June 24 and discovered a large bag of a white powdery substance in the pocket of Alan Hearne’s jeans. White powder, later confirmed to be cocaine, was observed down the front of his clothes. He was arrested and was unable for questioning for six hours, such was the level of his intoxication.

Solictor Ken Cunningham told the court that this man was not a drug dealer, or a seller, and the quantity found on his person was too large for personal use. A search of Alan’s home showed no evidence of drug paraphernalia, and the position of the defence was that this was a man, in such a state of inebriation that he took all of the drugs with him. Mr Cunningham furthermore pointed out that €130 was found in his pocket, suggesting that Alan was not selling drugs on John Street but, in fact, offering it to people passing.

Judge Kevin Staunton said the court was being asked to take a very big leap in this situation. Before passing sentence, he outlined the facts of the case, that whether Mr Hearne was paid for drugs, or whether they were offered, they were still supplied to the public.

“This court,” said Judge Staunton, “generally sees either cannabis or heroin. This case falls in between the two, meaning it is a very serious offence.” He acknowledged the family commitments that Alan Hearne has, together with his thriving business, a lack of previous or pending convictions, and that no evidence of drug use was found in his home. Judge Staunton issued a fine of €1,500 with six months to pay it. Additionally, an eight-month sentence was handed down, suspended for two years. A destruction order was made in respect of the cocaine.