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Man who got caught up in €837,000 heroin deal to pay off his golf fees avoids jail

The man was to be paid €200 for acting as a courier.

Stock photo of heroin drugs seizure
Stock photo of heroin drugs seizure
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

A MAN WHO was caught up in an €837,000 heroin deal told gardaí he got involved to make money to pay his golf fees.

Michael Smallhorn (57) was to get paid €200 to act as a courier, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

Smallhorn of Cremona Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin pleaded guilty to aiding another person at Limekiln Lane, Greenhills, Dublin in the commission of an offence of possession for sale or supply of drugs on 4 February 2016.

Detective Garda Suzanne Lyons from the Garda National Drugs Unit said at the time gardaí were acting on confidential information regarding Smallhorn.

They stopped him in his car at Greentrees Park, Walkinstown and found he had 13 street deals of heroin in the car. Detective Garda Lyons said these drugs had an estimated street value of €338.

A search of a Citroen car parked on the lane around the corner recovered 5.9 kilos of heroin.

After his arrest, Smallhorn told gardaí that he was paid by an unidentified man to leave the keys for the Citroen on the wheel.

The man told him to go and have a cup of tea and in the meantime someone was going to come to the car, pop the boot and take something from it. He was told he would be paid €200 for this but he never got this money.

He said he wanted the money to pay his golf fees. Judge Pauline Codd said: “I’m having difficulty assessing his motivation in getting involved”.

Breffni Gordon SC, defending, said Smallhorn had a lack of understanding and no clear idea of the magnitude of his involvement in the offence.

When shown the amount of drugs found in the Citroen Smallhorn told detectives: “If I’d have known it was that much I’d never have gone near it.”

‘A minor role’

Judge Codd said she had to balance Smallhorn’s minor role in the operation with the quantity of drugs involved. She suspended a sentence of five years on condition he keep the peace and take part in victim awareness programme.

Smallhorn said he knew the person who asked him to take part in the operation through his local pub and he was in fear of him because he was aware of his reputation.

Gordon said his client’s brother was a heroin addict and had begun calling to their mother looking for money to feed his habit. Smallhorn began buying the heroin for his brother the previous year to stop this.

His 12 previous convictions date to 1980 and include convictions for drunk driving in 2006 and forgery in 1998.

Judge Codd said his convictions were of a relatively minor nature. She noted he had been dabbling in heroin use himself at the time and he has expressed shame and remorse for his crimes since this.

Gordon said his client came from a hard working family. He handed in some work references and a reference from a homelessness charity that Smallhorn has volunteered with for 16 months.

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Declan Brennan

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