Two hapless drug mules from Limerick city spent six days in hospital expelling over 90 swallowed pellets of cocaine smuggled in from Spain.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Det Sgt Kevin O’Hagan said that the two, Thomas Tully (44) and John Byrne (43) were initially detected by Ollie, the Customs drugs dog at Shannon airport after they came off a flight from Spain on April 21st 2014.Det Sgt O’Hagan said that the Tully of Star Court, John Carew Park, Limerick and Byrne of Clare Street, Limerick were arrested and brought to University College Hospital Limerick where they remained under guard and spent the next five to six days expelling the swallowed cocaine pellets from their bodies.
In the case, Tully swallowed 54 pellets of cocaine with a street value of €17,150 while Byrne swallowed 40 pellets with a street value of €11,645. Both pleaded guilty to the importation and possession with intent to supply with Tully facing the more serious charge as his drug amount was over €13,000. Det Sgt O’Hagan agreed with counsel for Mr Tully, Anthony Sammon SC that what Mr Tully did was an extremely dangerous thing to do and that one ‘drugs mule’ died last year in Ireland.
Mr Sammon said: “One would want to be pretty desperate to submit oneself to this.” Det Sgt O’Hagan said that the two men each stood to make around €600 to €700 each from the operation after flight and accommodation expenses were paid for while Tully also stood to have a €700 debt due to a loan shark written off. Mr Sammon remarked: “It is a paltry gain to risk one’s life.”
The detective agreed with counsel for the accused that the two didn’t have the means to finance the operation and were merely drug mules. He said that Tully was forthright in Garda interviews without disclosing the identity of the Mr Big who sanctioned the operation. He said: “He didn’t reveal names.”
Det Sgt O’Hagan said that Byrne maintained his right to silence but did make admissions of his own involvement.
Det Sgt O’Hagan said that it was a joint operation by the two to bring the drugs back into Shannon.
He said that Byrne has 48 previous convictions while Tully has 10 previous convictions. Mr Sammon said that Tully “was in debt and was offered a way out” by agreeing to be a drugs mule. He said: “People who operates these awful drug gangs at the top are always at the look out for vulnerable people,” and in reply Det Sgt O’Hagan said that both men come under that description.
The detective agreed that Byrne has no trappings of wealth and hasn’t been convicted since the Shannon drugs seizure.
Counsel for Mr Byrne, Lawrence Groucher BL said that his client was “victim of more sinister elements and is not the strongest of characters. This operation is not something that he volunteered for - he was essentially coerced into doing this for a small reward." Mr Sammon said that he has to be realistic in relation to the sentencing parameters in relation to his own client and the Court of Criminal Appeal has imposed prison terms on other clients where suspended sentences were imposed in the circuit court. Mr Sammon said that his client is a diabetic and required regular insulin injections.
Judge Gerald Keys said that he had to read various reports in the case and remanded the two on bail for sentence to Ennis Circuit Court on April 7th.
By Gordon Deegan - The Independent/March 20, 2016
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