A DEALER described as a “key player” in the drugs trade has been jailed for eight years for possession of the biggest ever haul of heroin in Cork.
Dad-of-four Derek Keenan pleaded guilty to the possession of heroin and possession of heroin for sale and supply at his home in the city on July 9 last.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard today that Keenan had three kilos of heroin with an estimated street value of €418,600 in gear bags in his car parked in the driveway of his house at Harbour View Road in Knocknaheeny, on the northside of Cork city.
Members of Cork City Divisional Drugs Squad mounted a surveillance operation at the house.
Detective Sgt Michael O’Halloran said a warrant had been obtained to search the home of Mr Keenan.
At 11pm on July 9 2020, Gardai observed Mr Keenan sitting in his car in the driveway of his home and then saw another male getting into the car.
Gardai approached the vehicle where they spotted a number of gear bags, which were seized. In these was found 2.99kg of heroin.
Keenan and his co accused were interviewed and he made certain admissions in relation to his role in the drug operation.
His mobile phone was confiscated and examined. It contained text messages which related to drug dealing. He told Gardai he was awaiting instruction from another party on what to do with the heroin.
He claimed he was involved because he had received threats in relation to a €6,000 drug debt.
Detective Sgt O’Halloran said that Keenan, who has 29 previous convictions, was a “key player” in the drugs trade in the city and that his actions brought a lot of heroin in to the city. He said Keenan was caught “red handed”.
Defending barrister Donal O’Sullivan said that his client cooperated with Gardai and made admissions of guilt.
But Sergeant O’Halloran said while this was correct, Keenan hadn’t facilitated bringing the investigation to another level by giving further information on the drugs trade.
Mr O’Sullivan said that his client had lived a “blameless life” until his mid thirties when he became involved in drug taking.
He said: “It is exceptional that somebody would get to their mid thirties with no problems. He is an addict. He is the father of four children and has worked in construction.
“He is a person without the obvious trappings of wealth. There was no suggestion of there being bundles of cash in the house.
“He suffered from a deep seated drug addiction which had changed the course of his life”.
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Judge Sean O’Donnabhain said the drugs seizure was “very significant”.
He said: “He was a vital, necessary part of drug dealing in the city. To suggest he was involved to pay off a €6000 debt is some what fanciful. There is also no excuse to say he is an addict.”
Judge O’Donnabhain noted that Mr Keenan had been dealt with leniently by the courts for drugs offences on two previous occasions.
Taking the guilty plea into consideration, he jailed Keenan for ten years suspending the last two years of the sentence.