A BANTRY man has been given a suspended sentence on new ‘yellow card’ conditions imposed by Judge James McNulty, during a case which heard a drugs detection dog found cocaine hidden behind a brick wall.
Paul Flynn (58) of 2 Blackrock Road, Bantry, was legally represented by Flor Murphy, solicitor, at both Skibbereen and Bantry District Court.
In the 10 days between the two courts, the accused had been taken into custody, while Judge McNulty considered what penalties to impose in respect of three charges.
The accused had pleaded guilty to being in possession of cocaine at his place of residence on October 29th 2022 and Judge McNulty ordered him to do 200 hours community service on that charge.
Paul Flynn also pleaded guilty to allowing his property to be used in the commission of a drugs offence and, on that charge, he was ordered to enter into a bond that would place him under the supervision of the probation service for a year.
However, it was a charge of having cocaine for the purpose of sale or supply that was contested. Judge McNulty noted that when Gda David Barrett carried out the search and asked the accused if there were drugs on the premises Paul Flynn was ‘untruthful’.
‘A drug search dog found the drugs concealed behind a brick wall,’ he noted.
In defence of his client, Mr Murphy said that Paul Flynn was not involved in the sale and supply of drugs, but he did have an expectation of getting ‘a few quid or a few beers’ for allowing his property to be used.
‘He has been away for 10 days,’ said Mr Murphy. ‘And at the age of 58, he is old, and not a good candidate for prison.’
In summing up, Judge McNulty noted that the accused had operated as a facilitator. ‘He stored cocaine for a guy who was too smart to be driving around on a bank holiday weekend with cocaine in his possession.
‘There have been at least five cases in the last six months,’ he added, ‘where the court has seen vulnerable people exploited by smarter people to do their dirty work of storing and minding drugs while they go about their business safe from detection.’
The judge said facilitators in West Cork could expect to get a six-month prison sentence. However, in the case of Paul Flynn, Judge McNulty said he would suspend the six-month sentence for two years.
The suspension was conditional on the accused signing a ‘yellow card’.
The new court initiative requires the accused to put their signature to a printed yellow sheet.
It states: ‘I acknowledge and accept the following as special conditions. That I must keep the peace and be of good behaviour and that I must not commit any offence of any kind.
‘That I must not use or consume any controlled drug and that I must, on any reasonable request by any member of An Garda Síochána, provide an oral fluid sample for the purpose of monitoring my compliance with this condition.
‘That I must not engage in, or become involved in any way whatsoever in the purchase, sale, supply, delivery or storage of any controlled drugs, or in the collection or recovery of any drug debts.
‘That I must strictly comply with any curfew, or signing-on conditions, or similar obligations on me by the court.
‘And that I must comply with all probation service requirements.’
Above the dotted line, it also states: ‘I understand and accept that if I breach or fail to comply with these conditions or with any other relevant conditions, I will be brought back before this court.’
‘If you are a fan of soccer,’ said Judge McNulty, ‘you will understand that you will get a yellow card for your first serious foul.
‘If it happens again you get a second yellow card, and then you are automatically sent off,’ he said.
‘In the context of the courts in West Cork,’ Judge McNulty specified, ‘sent off means the accused will go to jail.’