By Claire Henry and David O'Sullivan
Two Waterford men, one described as a “guinea pig” and the other as “not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” have been given fully suspended sentences for their role in transporting drugs.
Peter Cawley (42) of German Road, St Johns Park, Waterford city and Richard Nolan (35) of Larchville, Waterford city appeared before Judge Patricia Ryan in Dublin Criminal Court yesterday (Friday) after pleading guilty to possession of heroin for sale or supply on March 19, 2020.
Judge Ryan said she would deal with the matter “unusually by way of suspended sentence”. She sentenced the two men to three years imprisonment, but suspended the sentences in their entirety.
Mitigating factors in sentencing included the two men's early pleas of guilty, their admissions during garda interview and their personal circumstances.
Judge Ryan noted that Cawley “has a favorable probation report” and a “pro-social attitude.” She also noted that Nolan had an ongoing heroin addiction at the time and has been making efforts to rehabilitate himself.
She had placed the two men on a probation bond a year prior, noting they acted as drug couriers for a very small amount of drugs as payment.
The court heard that gardaí were on mobile patrol in an unmarked garda car on the night. They observed a van that appeared to be rocking from side to side and pulled the van over. Three men were in the van, and there was a smell of cannabis.
Cawley was driving the van while Nolan was found lying down in the back of the van and was seen removing his hand from his waistband and placing something in a bucket. A third man who was in the van is not before the court.
At an earlier sentencing date, Garda Conor Dooley told David Perry, BL, prosecuting, that the men were arrested, and the van was seized. The van was searched, and heroin valued at €9,683, cocaine valued at €289, cannabis valued at €70 and tablets valued at €80 were seized. A small wrap of cocaine worth €96 was also found in the ashtray at the front of the van.
The court heard that both men were searched in the garda station. Cawley had no drugs on his person. Nolan told gardaí that he had drugs in his underwear and cannabis worth €100, and tablets worth €80 were found.
Nolan also had a white wrap in his mouth, which he refused to spit out and swallowed it. He later told gardaí that this was crack cocaine.
Both men were questioned and said they had been contacted by a person and asked to collect drugs. Cawley said that if he collected the drugs, he would be given €100 worth of cocaine. Nolan was told he would receive a few days’ worth of heroin. Nolan and Cawley were not known to each other.
Nolan has 50 previous convictions, and Cawley has 13.
Cawley pleaded guilty to possession of heroin for sale or supply, and Nolan pleaded guilty to three counts of having drugs for sale or supply in Clondalkin, Dublin 22, on March 19, 2020.
Gda Dooley agreed with counsel defending Nolan that during interview, his client co-operated with gardai and took ownership of the drugs found on him. Nolan described himself as “a guinea pig”, and the garda agreed.
Nolan offered an apology to the court and said that he “knows he should not have been involved”. Counsel for Nolan said his client had a long-standing heroin addiction which got out of control after the death of his brother in 2018.
Clean urine analysis reports were handed to the court.
Gda Dooley agreed with counsel defending Cawley that his client fully complied with gardaí throughout the search of the van and his person and during interview. He also handed over his mobile phone and pin number to gardaí.
A crack pipe was found on his person. He told gardaí that he did not know he had “been given a big shipment of drugs” and that it “was the worst decision I have ever made.”
Counsel for Cawley said her client “doesn’t present as the sharpest knife in the drawer”, which Gda Dooley agreed with.