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23/07/2021

Offaly cocaine charge dropped over lack of evidence

Offaly cocaine charge dropped over lack of evidence

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A charge of being unlawfully in possession of cocaine for the purposes of selling or supplying to another was dropped, in the case of Gavin Lowbridge (34) of Errymill, Clara, who was before last week's district court.

In his evidence, Garda Dermot Loughnane said that having obtained a warrant, he carried out a search of a caravan where the defendant was living at Errymill in Clara on January 14, 2020.

There he found 7 bags containing powder and one with cannabis along with weighing scales and a sum of €4,200. There were also one gram individual bags scattered around the caravan.

Garda Loughnane said the condition of the caravan was substandard with empty beer cans and empty bags of powder. They were not very nice circumstances, he said.

He arrested Mr Lowbridge under the misuse of drugs act and brought him to Tullamore Garda station for questioning. He was interviewed three times but made no admission. He was later released without charge pending the results of tests on the items found.

Garda Loughnane brought 8 exhibits to the forensic science laboratory. The results showed 9.26 grams of benzocaine with traces of cocaine and 2.1 grams of cannabis.

Benzocaine is used as a mixing agent and is a form of anaesthetic, Garda Loughnane told the court.

The value of the drugs was estimated at €673.

Garda Loughnane said Mr Lowbridge indicated the money found was savings, but he didn't believe him.

Mr Lowbridge had also told Garda Loughnane that they might find traces of cocaine on the weighing scales but he would be shocked if they did.

Acting for the defendant, Suzanne Dooner BL asked Garda Loughnane if he would accept that many large euro notes have traces of cocaine.

Garda Loughnane agreed. She then asked if she gave him a €50 euro note with traces of cocaine would that be enough to charge her with an offence. Garda Loughnane answered no. But said there were other items in the caravan.

Judge Catherine Staines said the traces of cocaine on the weighing scales was highly suspect but she added that there was simply not enough evidence to convict the defendant of possession for sale or supply. She dismissed this charge. He still faced two charges of being in possession.

Mr Lowbridge had two previous convictions but none for drugs offences.

Judge Staines put the case back to September 22 next for a probation report. She gave a destruction order for the drugs. She withdrew previously granted legal aid adding that he had €4,000 in cash to pay for his solicitor.

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