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Drug dealer who claimed he was only supplying to ‘a close group of friends’ jailed

Evidence against the defendant - who has 38 previous convictions - arose from his mobile phone where it became clear that he was involved in commercial transactions in relation to drugs

A Banbridge drug dealer who claimed he was supplying to “a close group of friends” has been handed a 20-month sentence.

Stephen McPolin, 31, from Edenderry Park, will spend 10 of those months behind bars after police carried out a search of his home on February 26, last year.

On Thursday, Newry Crown Court heard that during a planned search, officers located a number of items, including cannabis, cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and an iPhone, as well as a written request for drugs.

He was arrested and charged with possession and intent to supply Class A and B drugs.

While co-operative with police, the evidence against McPolin arose from his mobile phone, where it became clear that he was involved, over a period stretching from October 2019 up until 2020, in commercial transactions in relation to drugs.

In his submissions to police, the defendant, who had 38 previous convictions, made the case that any such activity related to a close group of friends and that he was not generally supplying to the public.

Defending, barrister Sean Devine, stated that this was a “sobering experience” for his client.

“He and his parents have taken this very seriously; it’s a life changing event for him and he intends to apply himself and stay in employment,” said Mr Devine.

He added: “He lives in a relatively rural area and is well-known to the authorities and local police now and they have been very clear that he is a person of interest to them as a result, and any future activity of this nature will be quickly stamped out.”

Judge Gordon Kerr QC sentenced McPolin to 18 months for intent to supply Class A drugs, 12 months for intent to supply Class B, four months for possession of Class A, and one month for possession of Class B – all of which are to run concurrently.

He also activated a previous suspended sentence, adding on a further two months, totalling 20 months, half of which will be spent on licence.

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