A Letterkenny man, who led Gardaí on two high-speed chases on the one night was found in possession of seven-and-a-half grams of cocaine when apprehended.
Damian Collier, of 75 Glenwood Park, was before Letterkenny District Court on charge of being in possession of a controlled drug for unlawful sale or supply.
After being arrested and restrained by Gardaí following two separate pursuits, Detective Garda Derek Connaughton believed Collier to have something in his mouth, which the defendant said was false teeth.
Collier subsequently spat out the golf-ball-sized item from his mouth, identified as being seven-and-a-half grams of cocaine, with a street value of €525.
Garda Connaughton told the Court that he was on patrol on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, at 8.55pm when he observed a black Ford Mondeo approaching him at Corravady.
The driver he knew as Mr Collier, who he was aware did not have a driving licence.
Garda Connaughton activated the blue lights and sirens and followed Collier for 20 minutes before stopping ‘due to the recklessness’ of the defendant.
Gardai went to Collier’s home and waited for three-quarters of an hour before leaving.
At Ballyraine, Garda Connaughton noted a Volkswagen Golf, being driven by someone he believed to be ‘an associate’ of Collier and followed that vehicle to a car park near the Silver Tassie Hotel.
There, they found the Mondeo, with Damian Collier and his half-brother Darren.
After spotting Gardaí, Damian Collier took off at speed.
Garda Connaughton gave evidence of a high-speed chase through various townlands on ‘minor back roads’ at speeds of up to 130km/h.
Garda Traffic Corps personnel deployed a stinger at Kilmacrennan, but Collier drove on, hitting 80km/h. He was followed by several patrol cars for 45 minutes through Gortnavern, Templedouglas, Churchill and Glendowan.
“At not one junction did he stop,” Garda Connaughton said, adding that other motorists were forced into evasive action.
As Collier went onto the main Glenties road near Meenaroy, he ‘mounted a ditch, hit road signs, removing them from their concrete base’.
The occupants of the Mondeo left the vehicle and was abandoned in the townland of Meenatinney, Churchill. A search of the area took place, but they two men were not located.
Some hours later, at 3.25am on April 4, 2018, uniformed Gardaí at Breenagh stopped a car in which Collier was a passenger.
“Damian was soaked from head-to-toe,” Garda Connaughton said. “It was minus-one on the night. He had gone through the river where the car had stopped.”
Garda Connaughton said it was his suspicion that he had attempted to evade Gardaí as a ‘transaction’ had been intercepted.
“It was my suspicion that he took chase as he was in possession of drugs,” he said. “When he was detected, cocaine estimated to be worth €500 was found. That is too much for personal use.”
Solicitor for Collier, Mr Frank Dorrian, said the sum, believed to be around 35 lines of cocaine was ‘not an outrageous amount for someone chronically addicted to cocaine’.
He said: “If he is taking five lines a day, this cache would be exhausted within a week. It is not an extravagant amount.”
Mr Dorrian said there was no evidence that Collier intended to supply the cocaine seized to the lady he had met in the car par.
“That would put every person in possession guilty of intent to supply,” Mr Dorrian said.
Judge Paul Kelly said that Collier had a case to answer, ‘albeit on a small scale’ and described the amount as ‘significant’.
Addressing the Court, Collier said he had paid €250 for the drugs and believed that he was buying three-and-a-half grams. He was ‘surprised’ to learn the amount that had been seized.
Collier said he used ‘a couple of grams a day’ and in relation to the quantity seized from him on the night in question said he could ‘take it all in one go’.
Inspector Michael Harrison put it to Collier that he had €250 to spend as he sold drugs.
Collier, who told the Court that he was now ‘clean for the last five months’, said he worked on cars and saved some money.
He said he ‘panicked’ on the night and drove away from the Gardaí.
Collier is facing other charges, including those arising out of a chase on April 10, 2017. Garda McLoone observed a Honda Acccord traveling at 110km/h in an 80km/h area. Garda McLoone said the car increased speed on ‘greasy and slippery roads’ before colliding with a barrier.
Damien Collier was apprehended and, following a blood sample, cocaine was found in his system.
Collier, who faces other charges from 2016, was remanded and the case adjourned to the March 25 sitting of the court.