A pensioner caught drug dealing while walking his dog along a canal has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Patrick Duff (69) was seen by gardaí rummaging in the bushes for his stash of zopiclone and alzolam tablets, which he was selling on the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin 3 while walking his dog.
He pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing the drugs for sale or supply at the canal and at his home address in North William St, Dublin 1, on January 21st, 2020.
He has since amassed another conviction for a similar drug dealing offence, which occurred in May 2020.
Garda Alan Foley told Aideen Collard BL, prosecuting, that he was on patrol with a colleague on the day in question when a member of the public alerted them to a dog walker selling drugs down by the canal.
They observed Duff talking to two people, who fled the scene when they saw the gardaí. Duff was then caught rummaging in the bushes for his stash of tablets, which he was keeping in two black socks.
Gardaí searched Duff's flat, which he shares with his partner and adult son, and more tablets were found. The total street value of the drugs seized amounted to €5,200, the court heard. His motivation for selling the drugs was to pay the bills, Gda Foley said.
Cathal McGreal BL, defending, told the court that his client lived in modest circumstances. He worked in the past as a cleaner and now has a number of health issues including arthritis, epilepsy, pulmonary heart disease and reduced hearing. He requires crutches to walk.
Duff was given a suspended two-and-a-half year sentence in June this year for the second offence of possessing tablets for sale or supply. The value of drugs in that case was just under €10,000. He has no other previous convictions.
Defence counsel said Duff lived a “pitiful existence” and got involved in selling drugs for a short period of time after being put under pressure by other parties.
“He is a very nice man who was taken advantage of,” Mr McGreal said. Duff stays at home all the time now and no longer walks his dog, the court heard.
Judge Martin Nolan said he was reluctant to accede to the defence's request to give a suspended sentence, but that he would do so given the particular set of circumstances.
He handed down a two-year sentence and suspended it on a number of conditions.