A 23-year-old Offaly native has received a four-year suspended jail sentence for possessing €6,000 worth of MDMA and cocaine, which he brought to Clonmel to sell or supply to people attending a music festival at the town's greyhound track.
The suspended sentence was imposed on Darragh Kenaghan, a native of Ferbane, with a current address at Lorrha, Nenagh, who pleaded guilty at Clonmel Circuit Criminal Court to possessing drugs for sale or supply to others in Clonmel on July 9, 2017.
Sgt. Jim Felle gave evidence that gardai on duty at the Mass Festival at Clonmel Greyhound Park saw a vehicle parked in the area of the Gashouse Bridge Car Park at 2.40am. There were four occupants, Darragh Kenaghan and three females.
As gardai were speaking to Kenaghan, they got a strong smell of cannabis and carried out a drugs search. Kenaghan initially co-operated. He stepped out of the vehicle and when Gda. Quirke searched him, he found a number of bags containing white powder and a brown substance, the court heard.
Kenaghan then began to resist the search. Gda. Quirke requested him to accompany him but he refused. He was arrested but continued to resist.
As gardai tried to place him in handcuffs, he swung around with his elbow and struck Gda. Quirke in the side of the head and then ran away.
A search of the vehicle found a black bag containing a substantial quantity of MDMA powder and cocaine with a street value of approximately €6,000.
Sgt. Felle said Kenaghan was subsequently found at Parnell Street in Clonmel at 4.22am with one handcuff on his hand. He was arrested and brought to Clonmel Garda Station where he was interviewed on three occasions.
Kenaghan admitted he bought the drugs in Galway and brought them to the Mass Festival with the intention of selling them. He claimed he had no recollection of assaulting Gda. Quirke but he did apologise for it.
The sergeant added that Kenaghan was a native of Ferbane in Offaly but at the time of the offence was living in Galway City. He had dropped out of college and told gardai he was trying to save money to return to college and pay his fees. He wasn't living the high life, Sgt. Felle added.
Defence barrister Edward O'Mahony told the court his client consumed a substantial quantity of alcohol that night and apologised almost immediately to the gardai.
He explained that Kenaghan had a personal debt of several hundred euros and the reason he got involved in this crime was to alleviate some of his debts.
The barrister said the Probation Service assessed his client as being a low risk of offending. He handed in the results of a urine analysis test which showed Kinahan was free of drugs.
Phil O'Callaghan, the proprietor of a Centra store in Ferbane, along with Ferbane GAA Club officials Oliver Daly and Brian Flynn gave character references for Kenaghan at the court hearing.
Mr O'Callaghan said he took Kenaghan on at the shop when he was 15 or 16 years old. He was one of the nicest kids he met in a long time and he had only positive things to say about him. He left his job at the shop when he moved to Galway to go to college.
Brian Flynn outlined that he knew Darragh since the age of 7. Their club had a policy of mentoring certain children from particular backgrounds, who were at risk. He was cared for by his grandparents, whom he had a lot of contact with.
His grandparents along with sport and his involvement in school gave a lot of structure in his life, which he thrived on. He was a member of a team that won a second level college's All-Ireland in 2011.
Mr Flynn explained that both his grandparents died within 11 months of each other and when he went to college he lost the support and structure of his peers, his family, school and sport. He lost contact with the club because he was ashamed and embarrassed over what happened and he was glad he was back again.
Oliver Daly appealed to Judge Teehan to give Kenaghan a chance. He said he knew the defendant since he was about four years old and he had been one of the top people in their club.
The Darragh Kenaghan represented in the court was not the person they knew. He had never given trouble and was a most lovable guy. He won a lot of underage medals for hurling and football and played with schools team, the court heard.
Mr Daly said he spoke to Darragh when he got into trouble and he was "unbelievably sorry" for what happened. "Darragh has totally cleaned himself up. He went for the help we asked him to do."
He pointed out that Darragh now had a good job in Galway and was returning to Ferbane GAA Club.
Judge Teehan said the aggravating factors in this case were the quantity of the drugs found on Kenaghan and the way he resisted the gardai. Kenaghan wasn't simply a drug mule, he was involved at a higher level selling drugs for profit. He regarded the case to be in the middle range of such offences, he told the court.
The Judge noted Kenaghan hadn't any previous convictions but more importantly he was somebody who was described by a number of impressive witnesses as a fine young man who did something out of character. He was impressed by each of the character witnesses. The fact they were prepared to travel such a distance and go into the witness box on his behalf also impressed him greatly.
Judge Teehan said he was also conscious of the defendant's unfortunate family background. The loss of his grandparents, who reared him for a good part of his childhood, must have had a huge impact on his life. "That is no excuse for getting involved in criminality but undoubtedly it happened at a time in his life when it was bound to have a profound effect."
He suspended the four-year jail term for four years on condition he kept the peace and be of good behaviour and refrain from ingesting illicit drugs.
The Judge added - "You have a good work history and record in sport. Concentrate on those. If you come back before another court, it's highly unlikely this level of leniency will be applied to you."