A judge has warned anyone who "stores or couriers drugs for more sinister elements" will go to jail to act as a deterrent to others.
Belfast recorder judge David McFarland made his remarks yesterday as he jailed a west Belfast man for nine months for storing Class A drugs with a street value of up to £28,000 at his home.
Patrick Joseph O’Hara (35), of Brooke Park had pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and ecstasy with intent to supply and possessing cannabis.
Prosecution barrister Simon Jenkins told Belfast Crown Court that police, armed with a search warrant, searched the home of the father-of-two on September 26, 2013 for suspected drugs.
He said: “In total, 384 grammes of cocaine were found with a purity level of between 10-13%. These had a street value of between £15,000-£23,000.’’
The court was told that during police interviews O’Hara said that he collected the drugs by arrangement from a man at a hotel in west Belfast. He refused to name anyone.
Mr Jenkins said: “He said he did it to pay off a drugs debt of £1,700. He said the £1,090 found in his kitchen was money he had borrowed from a family relative to pay off another drug debt.’’
A defence lawyer urged the Belfast Recorder to consider a suspended sentence as diabetic O’Hara had expressed remorse and sought help for drugs.
He added: “I don’t want to sound facetious but what I can say is that these drugs were found in the dog house and that is exactly where this defendant has been since then.”
But sentencing O’Hara to nine months’ jail, the judge said: “The sale of Class A drugs has a serious impact on society and the courts deal with the fallout of these drugs every day.”