By Sonya McClean
A MAN who was holding over €1 million worth of drugs in a Kildare storage facility he had been renting has been sentenced to nine years, with the final two years suspended.
Patrick Purcell (33) was under surveillance when gardaí witnessed him handing over a drug package to another man. A warrant was then secured for a lock-up he had been spotted in earlier that day where over €1 million worth of ketamine and €14,896 of cocaine was discovered.
Purcell told gardaí on arrest that he had been paid €500 to hold and distribute the drugs. He accepted that he had been renting the lock-up for €15 per week but claimed he had been using it to store tools for his landscaping business.
Purcell, of St Finian’s Green, Lucan, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of 18kg of ketamine worth €1,080,000 and 212 grammes of cocaine for sale or supply at the premises he had been renting in Straffan, Kildare on June 4, 2015.
He also pleaded guilty to possession of 2.2 kg of ketamine, worth an estimated €103,123 at Maiden’s Row, Chapelizod on the same date. Purcell has four previous convictions, including one for a drug offence for which he received a suspended sentence.
Judge Melanie Greally said “a large number of impressive testimonials” had been handed into court from reputable people who spoke well of Purcell.
She accepted that he had expressed genuine regret for the impact his crime had on his family and the wider community and that he had co-operated with the garda investigation.
Detective Garda Daragh O’Toole told John Quirke BL, prosecuting, that he and colleagues had received confidential information about Purcell and had his home under surveillance.
They saw him pick up a co-accused Jordan Maher (19), before Purcell drove to the lock-up in Straffan.
The men later drove on to Chapelizod, while some gardaí remained in Straffan and searched the premises after securing a warrant.
Maher, of Arthur Griffith Park, Lucan, pleaded guilty to possession of the ketamine at Maidens Row when he was spotted handling the package. He was previously given a four-year suspended sentence.
Det Garda O’Toole said a follow-up search at Purcell’s home led to the discovery of a smaller amount of cocaine and weighing scales that had traces of drugs on it.
Purcell told gardaí in interview that Maher didn’t know what was in the bag at the hand-over in Chapelizod.
He said he had agreed to take the drugs because he had a €1,500 cocaine debt.
Det Garda O’Toole agreed with Giollaíosa O’Lideadha SC, defending that Purcell’s role was to store the drugs and assist in their distribution.
He also accepted that while Purcell took responsibility for his own role, he claimed his life was at risk if he gave gardaí information about others involved.
Mr O’Lideadha said his client had a bigger problem with alcohol than drugs at the time of his arrest.
He said Purcell had not managed to “totally abstain” from drinking, but had reduced his intake of alcohol.
Counsel handed in a number of letters on behalf of Purcell from his family and his partner.
Purcell had also written a letter for the court in which he acknowledged that he didn’t appreciate the true consequences of his actions when he agreed to get involved in the offence.
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