Rattigan 'directed drugs gang from prison'

From his cell in Portlaoise Prison, Dublin criminal Brian Rattigan directed a gang operating a drugs business, the Special Criminal Court has heard today.

Closing speeches were heard this afternoon at the end of the third week of the non-jury trial of Rattigan (aged 32), formerly of Cooley Road, Drimnagh, who has pleaded not guilty to the possession of heroin and two counts of possession of the drug for sale or supply on Hughes Road South, Walkinstown, Dublin on May 21, 2008.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the possession of two mobile phones at Cell 42, E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison while an inmate at the prison on May 22, 2008.

“This was a gang operating a drug business, and the one directing it was Brian Rattigan from his prison cell,” counsel for the prosecution, Mr John O’Kelly SC, told the court.

Mr O’Kelly SC said it was the prosecution case that the five kilos of heroin found at the house on Hughes Road South were under the control of Brian Rattigan, who was directing what was to be done with the drugs.

He said that people arrested in the house were Brian Rattigan’s “loyal lieutenants”, but were acting on instructions which were “all coming one way” from a device in the possession of the accused man.

Mr O’Kelly said that, using different mobile phone SIM cards, Brian Rattigan kept in “very close communication” with those acting on the outside.

He said that a text message sent to a red and white Nokia 5300 phone seized by gardai along with the heroin in a shed at the back of the house on Hughes Road South was a “tick list” and instructions from Brian Rattigan to those in physical control of the drugs on how to dispose of and break up the heroin.

Mr O’Kelly said that telephone analysis had shown the sender of the text message was a SIM card found in the possession of Brian Rattigan when his cell was searched the following day. Rattigan, he said, did not have permission to have any telephonic devices.

He said other phones and documents seized showed that this was no isolated text and that there existed a pattern of communication between the people involved in the drug operation.

Mr O’Kelly said the case was based on circumstantial evidence, but the telephone analysis before the court was a contemporary record constituting “the most reliable form of evidence a court could look for” and was more reliable than direct evidence based on memory.

He said the only rational inference to be formed from the evidence was that the drugs found in the house on Hughes Road South were in fact drug in the possession under the control of Brian Rattigan.

Counsel for the defence, Mr Brendan Grehan SC, said there was a “deficit of proof” with regard to the two counts of mobile phone possession, as the prosecution failed to call two assistant governors who had the authority to grant permission for a phone to be used, and thus the offence had not been made out to the requisite standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr Grehan said that the evidence went no further than establishing a probable value for the drugs found, and did not take in to account jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, which had given an “authoritative statement” of the necessity of having an analysis of purity in drugs prosecutions in the 2011 Alphonsus Connolly case.

Mr Grehan said that from the outset the owner of the house on Hughes Road South took full responsibility for the possession of the drugs, while there was no eyewitness to say Rattigan had direct involvement in possession, no admission of culpability, no fingerprint evidence and no DNA evidence to tie the accused man to the drugs.

He said the case relied on circumstantial evidence only, and told the court there was not enough substance in the evidential strands to make “the strength of rope necessary” to hang a possession charge on.

Mr Grehan asked the court to acquit Rattigan of all offences.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, said the court believed it would require four clear days to consider the evidence before it, and would thus put the matter back until February 12 for judgement.

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