Student drug dealer 'lucky' to avoid prison as judge imposes order under pilot project
A drug dealer, who was caught when his flat in the Duncreggan Student Village in Londonderry was searched by the police was yesterday sentenced to complete 80 hours community service and put on probation for two years at Derry Crown Court.
Judge Philip Babington told Timothy McGuiness (20) the main reason he wasn't going straight to jail was because of a pilot project, the Enhanced Combination Order, which was now available in the jurisdiction.
McGuiness, of Rossland Park, Broughshane, Co Antrim, pleaded guilty to committing six drugs offences between July 12, 2017 and December 12, 2017, the day when his student flat was searched by police. Among the offences he admitted were possessing cocaine, offering to supply ecstasy, and possessing, offering to supply and being concerned in supplying cannabis.
The court was told that when his accommodation at the student village was searched, officers found four bags of cannabis containing 4.55g as well as a bag containing just under one gramme of cocaine.
He told police the cocaine was "some coke left over from Saturday" and he admitted to them that some of the £270 cash also found in his flat came from selling cannabis.
"He said the money was his and confirmed the statement that he had made to the police during the search. He told police that he was supplying friends but not making any money from it.
"He said that the cocaine was left over from his own use a few days before. He told the police that when his phone was examined it would show that he was involved in dealing cannabis," Judge Babington said.
"His phone was analysed and it confirmed that he was dealing in cannabis. It showed that he was involved with about 25 different contacts or customers. An examination of the text traffic shows his involvement and in particular illustrates his method of dealing in that he supplies cannabis on strap.
"There are a number of strap or dealer's lists contained within the messages.
He said a prosecution barrister had stated that McGuiness was in financial difficulty at the time and offended to feed his own drugs habit. "She makes further comment that at times he appears to have been in trouble even buying food. He is considered to be a street dealer and when looking at the messages as a whole, not a particularly successful one, however that is not the point as he was quite prepared to sell an illegal product," he added.
Sentencing McGuiness, he told him: "You should be aware that you are only avoiding a period of immediate custody because in his area the Enhanced Combination Order is in place as a pilot project."