A KINSALE carpenter recently told a judge that he was not aware the front seat passenger in his car had cannabis with him, when gardaí inspected his vehicle.
After hearing the evidence, the judge dismissed a charge of allowing drugs to be used in the defendant’s car.
Andrew Hurley, Brownsmills, Kinsale had pleaded not guilty to the charge at a recent sitting of Kinsale District Court.
Garda Peter Moran from Kinsale Garda Station told the court that on November 21st 2015 he was on a routine patrol in the Oysterhaven area when he and his colleague came across a car with five people in it.
Gda Moran said that when he approached the car he could see the front passenger trying to hide something down his trousers and he also had a grinder.
‘There was evidence of drug use in the car and on the passenger,’ said Gda Moran.
The court was told that the case of front seat passenger, Barry Fitzgerald, who had the cannabis, had already been dealt with in court.
Gda Moran said that Andrew Hurley was the driver of the car, and that no drugs were found on him, or the other three passengers.
Solicitor Tom Greenway asked Gda Moran if he searched his client and the other three passengers, and Gda Moran replied that he did, and that there were no drugs on them – bar the evidence of papers and cigarettes on the floor of the front passenger seat.
Mr Greenway asked Gda Moran if they were following the car and he said they weren’t, and were just on routine patrol.
‘My client said he had just pulled in when your car arrived,’ said Mr Gree nway.
Giving evidence in court, Andrew Hurley said that it was a Saturday night and he and his friends wanted to stay out of the pub so they decided to ‘spin around for the night’ and drove to Oysterhaven after picking up Barry Fitzgerald in Belgooly.
‘We weren’t there less than two minutes when the patrol car came up and I wasn’t aware my friend had cannabis on him as I don’t go searching my friends,’ said Mr Hurley.
Supt Liam Horgan put it to the defendant that when Gda Moran arrived at the car there was cannabis all over Barry Fitzgerald in the front passenger seat.
‘I put it to you that this didn’t happen instantly, and that your friend had the cannabis a long time before gardaí came. You’re the owner of the car and it’s not credible to say it happened straight away,’ said Supt Horgan.
‘The evidence of Gda Moran is that there was evidence of the preparation of cannabis on the passenger side, and I put it to you were fully aware of what was going on.’
Mr Hurley denied this and said Barry Fitzgerald had just taken out ‘the shot glass and scissors’ when gardaí arrived on the scene.
Judge David Waters told the defendant that as owner of the vehicle there is a presumption that even if there are drugs in the car, it is presumed that the defendant knew about it.
Mr Hurley said the cannabis wasn’t out in front of his eyes and that he didn’t know his friend had cannabis that day, and that he was only aware his friend may have smoked it in the past.
Mr Greenway asked his client was he aware while he was driving that his friend had cannabis on him. The defendant said that if he had seen him with the cannabis he would not have allowed him smoke it in the car.
‘By the time we had pulled in, he had the cannabis out and then the squad car arrived,’ said Mr Hurley.
Judge Waters asked Supt Horgan what justification was there for a stop and search of the car? Supt Horgan said the two gardaí saw the car parked with five people in it and they were just going to enquire who was in it.
‘Their initial intention wasn’t to search them,’ said Supt Horgan.
Judge Waters said that the presumption is there but the defendant said he didn’t know his friend had drugs.
‘The friend with the cannabis was the only individual prosecuted and no one else had any on them, so it gives me reasonable doubt as you would expect all of them would have drugs or be in involved in the preparation,’ said Judge Waters.
In the circumstances where there was reasonable doubt, Judge Waters dismissed the case.