A MAN and a woman who received prescription drugs in the post were charged with multiple counts of possession, as well as having drugs for the purpose of sale or supply.
Saoirse O’Driscoll (26) of Apt 6 The Paragon, Main Street, Skibbereen was legally represented at the local court by Colette McCarthy, solicitor, while Laurence McGarr, who is 16 years her senior, of Apt 4 and Apt 6 at The Paragon, was represented by Flor Murphy.
Both solicitors told Judge James McNulty that their clients were ‘admitting the facts’ and they outlined to the court how Saoirse O’Driscoll was just 19 when she ran away to Ibiza and met Laurence McGarr who had previously served time for two drugs offences.
Colette McCarthy said her client had taken Valium at the age of 16 but she became addicted to heroin in a very short time after meeting up with the co-accused, who was once her partner, and is the father of their six-month-old child.
Flor Murphy acknowledged that the couple had been strung out on heroin but managed to get clean for a time before relapsing into drug use again. Since the detection in Skibbereen, the court was told that McGarr has been drug-free for over 12 months while O’Driscoll had got clean, including during her pregnancy.
She has suffered a relapse, said Ms McCarthy, but is working with an addiction counsellor and is due to go back into a residential treatment programme.
The solicitors told the judge that the couple came to Skibbereen because Saoirse O’Driscoll, who is originally from Bandon, had to be provided with emergency accommodation in West Cork.
Insp Debra Marsh, for the prosecution, called Det Gda Shannon Ryan to give evidence and he outlined how on April 30th 2020 at the Main Street car park he approached the two accused after they left the local sorting office.
He said two envelopes containing 300 pills – including Diazepam and Zopiclone – were addressed to Saoirse O’Driscoll but they were removed from down the front of Laurence McGarr’s tracksuit pants. The State witness also told the court that a sealed package containing 30 Diazepam and a gram of cannabis had been withheld at the sorting office in Portlaoise.
He said the drugs in the package were wrapped in foil and what he described as ‘a menu’ from the medical centre in the Canaries. Saoirse O’Driscoll told gardaí her then partner was ‘holding them for me’ because she was not able to get prescription drugs from her GP in West Cork.
She subsequently claimed she was under the influence of the co-accused and that it was ‘a controlling relationship’. She said she was afraid of ‘what would happen’ and that their relationship was, at the end, ‘physical’ in that ‘he put his hands on me a number of times. He hit me.’
The accused admitted that she was going to give 10 of the sleeping tablets to a friend, but denied ever selling or supplying drugs to anyone else, claiming that they needed them for themselves to come off harder drugs.
Both accused said that while the amounts might seem large but it was, for them, a six-month supply, all for personal use.
Laurence McGarr gave evidence that they were both in ‘a very bad place at that time’, and that he wanted ‘us both to get well’. He said he took the drugs because he was ‘escaping the reality of myself.’
McGarr also stated that he had a prescription in Ireland and that he was sharing his medication with O’Driscoll.
On a second occasion, May 25th 2020, Gda Ryan said he apprehended the two as they left the sorting office and this time the package was hidden down the front of Saoirse O’Driscoll’s tracksuit pants.
This package, posted from the Canary Islands, contained 307 pills and three prescriptions from a doctor. The drugs in question were Buprenorphine, Lorazepam and Diazepam. When questioned by gardaí, Saoirse O’Driscoll said: ‘I knew the prescription was fine, but the pills were illegal to send. The doctor doesn’t care. We were in such a mess we didn’t realise a doctor in Ireland had to approve the prescription coming from abroad.’
Having been a heavy heroin addict for four years, Saoirse O’Driscoll said she wanted the pills to come off Methadone as ‘a way of getting our daughter back’.
When asked how they could afford the drugs, the accused said they were given ‘tick’. She also admitted doing some shoplifting abroad before returning to West Cork.
Gda Ryan said some of the prescription drugs came from the UK and some came from a doctor in the Canary Islands.
Judge McNulty convicted both defendants of having drugs for the purpose of sale or supply, but he marked the lesser charges of possession proved but taken into consideration.
In the case of Saoirse O’Driscoll, the judge adjourned the case to the July 26th sitting of Skibbereen District Court for the purpose of getting a probation officer’s report, and an update from her own addiction counsellor. In the case of McGarr, Judge McNulty sentenced him to 12-months imprisonment on the sale or supply charges, but Mr Murphy asked for recognisances to be fixed for an appeal.