Belfast Telegraph

Father caught dealing heroin in Belfast handed two year sentence

By Ashleigh McDonald

A father-of-two who was caught by police dealing heroin in south Belfast was handed a two-year prison sentence on Thursday.

Lithuanian man Artiomas Cerepanovas - who at the time of his arrest was homeless and sleeping on the street - was caught with a total of 30 wraps of the Class A drug, each of which was worth £25.

Passing sentence, Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said: "The amounts were small, but the defendant was prepared and was dealing hard drugs whose pernicious effect is felt by many in this city and whose lives have been blighted by that association."

The 34-year-old was told by Judge Miller that he will spend half his sentence in prison, followed by a year on licence.

Belfast Crown Court heard Cerepanovas travelled from Cork to Belfast to sell heroin, and as a result of his arrest the Home Office has started deportation proceedings.

Prosecuting barrister Gareth Purvis told Belfast Crown Court that police were attended an incident in the university area of the city on March 13 when they noticed two men acting suspiciously in an alleyway.

As an officer approached the pair, they left the scene. However, the constable spotted another man in a second alleyway, who was seen to bend down and work with a loose brick.

Mr Purvis said as the officer approached this man, he noticed he was holding money in his hand. A search was conducted and after a loose brick was removed, police located a bag containing 30 wraps of heroin.

The prosecutor said the wraps were .72 grams each, and that a total of 8.34 grams were found which amounted to a street value of £750, as the wraps were £25 each. When arrested Cerepanovas was found to have £162 in cash.

During interview, Cerepanovas said he had come to Ireland from Lithuanian with the promise of work. He told police that after spending his life savings and failing to get a job, he found himself on the streets.

Cerepanovas said it was never his intention to become involved in drugs, but after spending time in Cork he was offered employment selling drugs in Northern Ireland.

When questioned by Judge Miller about whether or not Cerepanovas was part of a criminal gang, Mr Purvis said it was the Crown's view he was "at the very bottom level of an organisation."

Defence barrister Joel Lindsay said that before coming to Belfast via Cork, Cerepanovas had never been involved in drugs.

Revealing Cerepanovas was a builder by trade with two children back in Lithuania, Mr Lindsay said his client's original intention was to "come to Ireland and gain legitimate work" which didn't materialise.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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