TEXT messages on a Belgooly dairy farmer’s phone indicated he was involved in the sale of cocaine in his locality with one customer even offering to milk his cows in exchange for drugs.
At Bandon District Court last week, Barry Coleman of Ballinacourtha, Belgooly and son of Independent councillor Alan Coleman was handed down a 10-month jail sentence for the sale and supply of cocaine.
Mr Coleman had previously pleaded guilty to the charge but Judge James McNulty said there were inconsistencies between what was said in a probation report produced for the court and the evidence of gardaí.
Det Gda Colin O’Mahony, who investigated the case, said that he had been on plain clothes duty on April 5th last year in Riverstick, when he came across the defendant at Cois Bruach, Curra at 10.20pm. He carried out a search on Mr Coleman and found three bags of cocaine and €230 cash in his wallet.
Det Gda O’Mahony said they also found a black iPhone that contained text messages which indicated he was supplying drugs to others.
Mr Coleman denied being involved in the sale or supply of cocaine and when he was later interviewed at Bandon Garda Station on September 18th last year he said the drugs were for his own personal use.
‘He said he had been using the drug for about nine to 12 months and was doing two to six lines of cocaine a night at weekends,’ said Det Gda O’Mahony.
‘However, text messages on his phone connect him to the sale and supply of drugs in the locality but he denied selling cocaine or any drug. The messages indicate that he was selling to a large group of regular customers over an extended period.’
Det Gda O’Mahony said that customers would call to his farm to collect drugs and leave cash there or pay online for them.
‘Someone offered to work on his farm in exchange for drugs.’
When Det Gda O’Mahony asked him about text messages relating to ‘green or white’, the defendant made reference to alternative excuses like ‘grass or heading’.
Judge McNulty then read out some of the text messages taken from Mr Coleman’s phone which included messages like ‘I’ve left one out for you’ and ‘left it at the top of my entrance on pillar side,’ and ‘I’ll be milking, call up to the dairy.’
One customer asked ‘ Any chance of a fifty? Or I can milk for you on Sunday as I’m off’.
His solicitor Diarmuid O’Shea said his client acknowledges what he did was out of order and that he has learnt a salutary lesson and has gone for addiction counselling.
However, Judge McNulty asked why the defendant in the probation report denied being involved in the sale and supply of cocaine. Mr O’Shea said he did not why.
Judge McNulty said the court considers this to be a ‘grave offence’.
‘There’s no want on him and it’s clear to me what he wanted to do is fund his drug use from the profits made by selling to others.
‘It’s really quite abhorrent to decent people that a man who has so much should involve himself in selling cocaine to others, many of whom have so little in comparison to him,’ said Judge McNulty.
Judge McNulty also highlighted the fact that one customer offered to milk cows to pay off a drug debt.
‘As if the profits from dairy farming weren’t good enough.’
Judge McNulty said Mr Coleman’s involvement in the drug trade is ‘despicable’ and he sentenced him to 10 months in prison.
He convicted and fined him €2,000 on the possession charge.
Recognisances for an appeal was fixed in Mr Coleman’s own bond of €1,000 with no cash required.