Drugs courier Robert Orr jailed for two years

May 14, 2023

A Donegal drugs courier has been jailed for two years after being caught with over €17,000 worth of cocaine.

Serious neck and back injuries sustained by a Garda in attempting to apprehend Robert Orr were considered as a significant aggravating feature.

Detective Sergeant Gerry Farry was dragged through a hedge and plunged five feet into a field as he gave chase to Orr on April 12, 2021.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard details of how Detective Sergeant Farry, who was attached to the Division Drugs Unit, had to receive treatment in a spinal unit for what were described as ‘life changing injuries’.

Detective Sergeant Farry, who was present when the case was heard in court, was off work for 12 months following the incident at Hollands, Ballindrait, Lifford. Detective Sergeant Farry suffered serious injuries to his neck and back, shattered his wrist – which also required surgery – and suffered facial injuries and a chest injury.

While Judge Aylmer said he was conscious that there was no charge in relation to Orr resisting arrest, he said the context of previous for a failure to comply with directions of a Garda, two convictions for escaping from lawful custody and the context of resisting arrest, meant that he was entitled to view this as a significant aggravating feature in the case.

Orr, who has 56 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to the possession of a controlled drug with the intention of selling it or otherwise supplying it to others.

A 37-year-old of Abbey Park in Manorcunningham, Orr was a front seat passenger in a blue Vauxhall Vectra which was stopped at 5.25pm on the day in question by Garda Anthony Marren and Detective Sergeant Farry.

A drugs task force was carrying out patrols in the Letterkenny Garda District targeting individuals who were believed to be in the ‘upper echelons’ of the drugs trade in Letterkenny.

Garda Marren told Ms Patricia McLaughlin BL, prosecuting, that Orr exited the vehicle and jumped through a hedge into a field with Detective Sergeant Farry dragged through as he placed his hand on Orr’s shoulder.

Orr got to his feet and was observed discarding a white package as he ran off.

Orr ignored verbal commands from the Gardai to stop, but was caught by Garda Marren and arrested before being taken to Letterkenny Garda Station. The white package, which contained a compacted powder substance, was recovered and later verified by Forensic Science Ireland as being 248.8 grams of cocaine, valued at €17,416.

While Orr made admissions when interviewed by Gardai, he declined to say who had given him the drugs or who they were being taken to as he was concerned for the safety of his family. “I am only a courier,” Orr told investigating officers.

The court was told that Orr has 56 previous convictions, dating between 2002 and 2017, 26 of which are for road traffic offences. Nineteen of Orr’s previous convictions relate to public order offenses, two of which are for failing to comply with the directions of a Garda, while he has two convictions for escaping from lawful custody and one for the possession of drugs.

Orr was put in the witness box and told the court that he wanted to apologise to Detective Sergeant Farry.

Mr Peter Nolan BL, barrister for Orr, said his client panicked and attempted to run away. Mr Nolan said Orr, a father-of-four is a ‘poorly educated individual’ who has ‘limited insight into his behaviour’ and whose work record is ‘patchy’.

The court heard that Orr began using cannabis when he was aged 10 and started taking cocaine at the age of 17, but Mr Nolan said his client has been substance free for two years and has been in a ‘very supportive’ relationship since 2015 having previously been married for a short time when he was 16.

Passing sentence in the case, Judge John Aylmer said the offence was one that, having regard to the quantity involved and the nature of the drug, merited a starting point of a four-year prison term.

Judge Aylmer said Orr is a man with a ‘very checkered past’, outlined by his catalogue of previous convictions. He said an early plea in this instance was of ‘limited’ mitigation given that he was caught red-handed.

Orr is described by the Probation Service as being of a moderate risk of reoffending and Judge Aylmer said he was now in a relationship with his partner, with whom he has four children and who is a ‘positive element’ of his life.

“He has remained out of trouble since this offence, which suggests positive steps with regard to his rehabilitation,” Judge Aylmer said. “It appears that, at the age of 37, he may be maturing and I note his apology to Detective Sergeant Farry.”

Judge Aylmer reduced the sentence to one of three years in prison, with the final 12 months suspended. Orr is to keep the peace and be of good behavior for 12 months subsequent to his release. For that 12-month period, he will be under the supervision of the Probation Service and must comply with all directions and recommendations laid down.


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