Sasko Lazarov/

Ian Bailey appears in court on charges related to possession of cannabis and drug-driving

The 63-year-old faces four charges following his arrest last year.

A COURT HAS heard that Ian Bailey, who is contesting a drug-driving charge, was found with a small tin of cannabis on his person following his arrest at a garda checkpoint.

The 63-year-old faces four charges following his arrest near Schull, Co Cork on 25 August, 2019.

Bailey, of Priary, Lisscaha in Schull in west Cork has been charged with and pleaded not guilty to possession of cannabis in his car, possession of cannabis at Bantry garda station, driving while cannabis was in his system, and allowing his car to be used for possession of cannabis.

He was arrested on suspicion of drink driving, having failed a roadside breath test, but he then passed a second test at Bantry garda station.

It’s alleged he failed an oral fluid test and that blood samples taken by a doctor at Bantry garda station later tested positive for the presence of cannabis.

Bantry District Court heard that Bailey had been stopped at a checkpoint in Schull shortly after 8pm on 25 August, 2019.

Judge John King was told that small tin of cannabis was found on Bailey, who allegedly told gardaí that someone had left it for him at his market stall.

The court also heard that Bailey said that the cannabis found on his person was for “personal use” and that a search of his car should not uncover any more of the drug.

However, gardaí allegedly found three other joints in the car after they searched the vehicle. The joints were found in a compartment in the centre dash.

Emmet Boyle, counsel for Bailey, raised a number of issues in relation to the case. These included how gardaí came to uncover the cannabis both on the person of his client and in his car.

The barrister also mentioned other aspects of the garda probe including, including that the arresting garda allegedly retained Bailey’s car keys after his release on the night of his arrest, took the car and parked it at the station overnight before searching it the next day.

The judge agreed to consider written submissions on some of those arguments. The case will return before the West Cork court on 10 December.

Checkpoint set up

Garda Sergeant Kevin Heffernan told the court that he and Garda Corina Finn set up a checkpoint three miles outside Schull on the day of the alleged offence.

He said shortly after 8.15pm, a Kildare-registered cream-coloured Toyota Verso being driven by Bailey approached the checkpoint.

The garda sergeant said that he noted that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt. As the driver approached, he quickly fastened his belt.

When stopped, Bailey produced his driving licence at the checkpoint. The garda sergeant said that he then got a strong smell of alcohol off Bailey’s breath.

Bailey told the garda that he had had a pint with a meal earlier. He also said he was fatigued.

The garda sergeant carried out a roadside breath test, which Bailey failed, before being arrested and taken to Bantry garda station.

His car was parked by the sergeant near the the entrance to a field shortly before 9pm.

Garda Gary Coakley carried out a routine search of Bailey at the station, where a small tin containing cannabis was found.

The journalist passed an evidenzer test for alcohol, but an oral fluid test was conducted shortly after 10pm that night, which tested positive.

‘Someone left it’

A cautioned memo was then taken in which Bailey said of the small tin containing suspected cannabis: “Someone left it at the market stall. They said ‘it’s for you’ and they left it.”

He told Garda Heffernan that it was “green stuff” and, replying to a question about whether he knew what it was, he said “not exactly but it looks like cannabis”.

“I assume it is cannabis and I was in possession of it,” he said.

Bailey said he didn’t know the name of the person who left the tub with him and when asked by the garda sergeant whether additional cannabis would be found in his car he replied: “No, you shouldn’t.”

Garda Gary Coakley said it was standard practice for anyone under arrest to be searched at the station for their protection and the protection of gardaí.

He said that when the tin was found on Bailey, he was informed that a friend had given it to him.

Bailey signed the memo of interview with the garda sergeant shortly after 11pm and gardaí dropped him home.

Car searched

Shortly before midnight, the garda sergeant returned to the checkpoint and unlocked the car and drove it to Schull garda station, where it was parked securely overnight to the rear of the station.

The garda sergeant told the court that he didn’t want to search the vehicle in the dark and that the vehicle was secure behind two electric gates.

The following morning at 8am, he searched the car. He told the court he found in a small compartment in the centre dash two rolled joints and some flakes of cannabis. He also said he uncovered mini cigar of rolled cannabis in the car.

The three joints were later retained as evidence. When Bailey called to the garda station for his car the following day, it was put to him that cannabis was found in his car.

Bailey told gardaí that the cannabis was for “personal use”.

Sgt Heffernan told the court that he wasn’t sure whether he had held on to Bailey’s keys at all times, or whether he may have handed them into the member-in-charge before having them returned to him later to facilitate him moving the car.

Counsel for Bailey said the search of his client took place 19 minutes after his arrival at the station.

However, Bailey waited 28 minutes before the 20-minute period of observation for the drink-driving test commenced.

“It was a search of an individual at a Garda station where there is a breach where there was no effort to ensure that Mr Bailey understood the reason for the search, therefore anything uncovered by the search is at issue,” counsel said.

He said gardaí could have asked Bailey to take a test for drug-driving at the roadside.

He said the forming of the decision to carry out the drug-driving test was “retrospective” and based on what was allegedly found on Bailey during the search.

‘Ill-founded’ movement of car

Counsel also said Bailey did not have his car keys and was not in control of the vehicle and the garda sergeant had “no statutory entitlement” to retain the keys and to retain the vehicle. He described the moving of the car to Schull as “ill-founded”.

Inspector Ian O’Callaghan, prosecuting, defended the garda’s procedures.

He said the roadside procedures were “totally correct” and that once cannabis had been found on Bailey in the search, the garda sergeant had correctly formed the opinion that Bailey may have been driving under the influence of a drug.

He said it was “entirely logical” to deduce this and “the sergeant’s opinion was proved correct”, referring to the results of the subsequent analysis.

O’Callaghan said it was “standard practice” that prisoners be searched at a garda station.

He said ” at all times” the keys to Bailey’s car were in garda custody and that “it is the state’s view that all procedures were done correctly”.

The case will return for mention next month.

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Olivia Kelleher