A carpenter caught with drugs valued at €356,000 near Barefield last year turned to crime to pay off debts to financial institutions and drug dealers, a court has heard.

Trevor Gargan (31) with an address at 179 Cregayn Street, Belfast, Antrim, is beginning a jail term after being convicted at Ennis Circuit Criminal Court yesterday.

He had pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis which had a market value that exceeded €13,000 at Ballymaconna, Barefield on February 22 (2012). He also pleaded guilty to having cannabis resin for purposes of sale or supply on the same date and at the same location.

The court heard that the cannabis found in Mr Gargan’s car was valued at €325,522. Cannabis resin valued at €29,000 was also discovered in the car, the court heard.

The court heard that Mr Gargan told gardaí that he was transporting the drugs to pay off debts of between €1.2 million and €1.3 million owed to a financial institution.

A family friend told the court that Mr Gargan borrowed money to invest in property development in South Kildare in 2005. The court heard Mr Gargan moved to Northern Ireland to declare himself bankrupt.

A native of Maynooth, Mr Gargan also told gardaí that he owed €18,000 to drug dealers and that he would have received €500 for transporting the drugs.

Detective Garda Seamus McMahon told the court Mr Gargan told gardaí that he feared his family’s life were in danger.

“He told us, ‘I owe dangerous people €18,000. I can’t say more than that.” Mr Gargan has no previous convictions. Counsel for Mr Gargan, David Sutton SC, told the court, that the accused became involved in drug dealing when his life came under threat.

He added, “This is a desperate man engaged in a desperate offence”

Mr Sutton described his client’s predicament as one of the “sad flotsam of the Celtic Tiger. This is a desperate man.”

Judge Carroll Moran noted Mr Gargan’s previous good character. He said that while the extent of the accused’s involvement was unclear, he was dealing in illicit contraband.

He described the value of the drugs as “colossal”. He imposed a four-year sentence, concurrent on both counts.

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A native of Ennis, Ronan Judge completed his Journalism and Communications Diploma course at Griffith College. The Clare People is his first newspaper appointment. Contact Ronan on [email protected]

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