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  • Northside East

Today in court

Thursday, 13th February, 2020 3:41pm
Today in court
Today in court

By Declan Brennan and Fiona Ferguson

A MAN who allowed drug dealers to mix and bag hard drugs in his home after receiving threats has avoided a prison sentence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Ciaran Wolverson (53) came under pressure from local drug dealers after his mother died. He received a text to his mobile phone saying houses were being smashed up in the area and his could be next.

After his arrest, Wolverson, of Edenmore Crescent, Raheny, told gardaí that a “number of youths” would come to the house and he would then go into a back room while “they do what they have to do and then they leave”.

He said the men would mix and bag the drugs and would leave him a small piece of heroin for his own use.

Acting on confidential information about heroin being stored at Wolverson's home, gardaí went there with a search warrant on October 5, 2017. They recovered eight individual bags of cocaine in a Gucci bag and cocaine and heroin in plastic freezer bag.

The estimated street value of the cocaine was a little over €17,000 while around €740 worth of heroin was seized.

Wolverson pleaded guilty to permitting his home to be used for the sale or supply of controlled drugs.

John Berry BL, defending, said that Wolverson's mother was a strong, formidable person and that before her death “nothing of this nature would ever have been attempted by anyone in the neighbourhood”.

Counsel said that after her death, dealers identified Wolverson as a vulnerable person. Mr Berry said his client didn't have the fortitude or resilience to say no to the drug dealers. He said Wolverson's family was now aware of the situation and threats had not continued.

Wolverson has had a low level heroin habit since the 1980s. His only other conviction is for possession of cannabis.

Judge Melanie Greally said she had placed Wolverson on probation for one year after first hearing the evidence to test his commitment to addressing his drug addiction.

She noted he had engaged in a positive way with the Probation Service but was still “a work in progress” and would benefit from further support.

The judge placed this offence in the mid range on the scale, noting the drug value was substantial and that he had provided an extremely necessary facility within his own home.

She took into account his guilty plea, co-operation, his previous dependence on drugs, his strong family support, the fact he has not re-offended and the efforts he has made to address his addiction.

Judge Greally imposed a four year sentence suspended for four years and ordered him to complete a further 12 months probation supervision.

***

By Declan Brennan

A NURSE who began stealing prescription drugs from a nursing home to deal with the effects of an assault he suffered has received a suspended sentence.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Giovanni Protacio (49) was formerly a well respected person in the community with two decades of nursing experience. He was commended by colleagues for his “high levels of compassion”, the court heard.

Protacio was employed at Clonmethan Lodge nursing home in north Co Dublin in November 2015 when a patient struck him around the head with a metal bar. He suffered soft tissue damage and began taking pain killers and sleeping tablets to deal with the effects of the assault.

He became “severely” addicted to sleeping tablets and began stealing them from the nursing home, Detective Garda Brian Reedy told the court. He said Protacio had access to locked medical cabinets.

The offending came to light in May 2017 when a pharmacist in Dublin city centre became suspicious about a prescription linked to the nursing home. Protacio was identified on CCTV as having brought the prescription in and gardaí carried out a search of his home in Lusk, Co. Dublin.

They found stolen blank prescriptions and various brands of sleeping tablets taken from Clonmethan Lodge.

Protacio, of Dun Emer Avenue, Lusk, pleaded guilty to one count of forgery of a prescription on May 3, 2017, and three counts of theft of medicines and blank prescription sheets from the nursing home on various dates up to May 2017.

Judge Pauline Codd noted that the total value of the medicines, at €17, was small but said there was a very significant breach of trust by a person in the care of vulnerable adults.

She noted Protacio's genuine remorse and the fact that his offending was in the context of dealing with an injury resulting from an assault on him during the course of his work.

Judge Codd said he was since engaged fully in therapy and had self rehabilitated. She noted his good record of work and the fact that his career would be adversely affected by this conviction.

She imposed a prison term of nine months but suspended this in full.

Gda Reedy told Paddy Jackson BL, defending, that he agreed Protacio was unlikely to re-offend and that records showed he has had an impeccable record as a nurse.

Mr Jackson said his client was well respected in the community up to this offending and the conviction came as a huge blow to him and his family.

He said his client trained as a nurse in the Philippines and became interested in people with special needs because of his noted “high levels of compassion”.

***

By Fiona Ferguson

A burglar who claimed to be looking for tissues when a staff member caught him stooped over a safe in the back office of a jewellers has been jailed for 18 months.

Stephen Byrne (46), of Kilmartin Avenue, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to burglary at Pandora Jewellers, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, on March 3, 2019.

Byrne has 108 previous convictions, including 53 burglaries, 16 thefts and two robberies.

Garda James O'Donnell told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that a staff member noticed a male stooped over a safe in the back office. When the male stood up and spoke to her she realised it was not a G4S officer as she had assumed and she called for security.

Byrne said her colleague had sent him in the back because he was looking for a tissue but she knew this was untrue. He started to leave but a security officer asked him to return to the store and called gardaí.

Byrne initially denied remembering anything and told gardaí “everything was a blur” as he had taken tablets. He said he had gone into the office looking for something to take and blacked out.

Gda O'Donnell agreed with Sarah Jane O'Callaghan Bl, defending, that Byrne had given gardaí no difficulty and was co-operative. Nothing was taken from the office.

Ms O'Callaghan said Byrne had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and significant mental health issues. She said in his offending he did not use violence, threats or put people in fear. She said he had been receiving custodial sentences from 15-years-of-age.

She outlined he had a supportive family and hoped to make better choices in the future. She submitted he was someone who was indicating he wanted to change his ways.

Judge Melanie Greally noted Byrne had a large number of previous convictions for burglary and this was a pattern of behaviour that had been ongoing for a long time.

She said his offending was linked to his longstanding drug addiction which he had sought to address without lasting success.

Judge Greally said she was going to structure a sentence in order to endeavour to break the cycle of offending which was in Byrne's own interest and as well as in the interest of the community.

She imposed a two-and-a-half-year sentence and suspended the final year on strict conditions, including that he abide by all direction of his probation officer and mental health team.

***

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