Northern Ireland news

Drug dealing student spared jail

Co Tyrone man Keelan McDonald was handed a five-month suspended sentence

A drug-dealing student who stored supplies in a hollowed-out bed at his accommodation has avoided jail.

Co Tyrone man Keelan McDonald was handed a five-month suspended sentence for having quantities of cocaine and MDMA seized from a house in south Belfast.

His barrister said: "This is a young man who came down from the country and simply got way in over his head."

McDonald (22) of Albany Road in Stewartstown, was arrested after police searched student accommodation on Rutland Street in June last year.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard a bag containing drugs and £950 in cash was discovered in his bedroom.

Further quantities and scales were found inside the hollowed base of a bed in the property, prosecutors said.

The investigation, which widened to McDonald's home address, uncovered amounts of suspected cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, Ketamine and so-called deal lists.

He admitted charges including possessing and being concerned in the supply of Class A and B drugs, as well as having criminal property.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd insisted McDonald was not a "major player".

District Judge Mark McGarrity was told McDonald became involved to fund his own habit and supply friends.

"Many of them were better off in financial terms, and it allowed him to keep up with them and socialise with them to some extent," Mr Boyd submitted.

Mr McGarrity described the defendant's views on his activity as "distorted".

But imposing a five month sentence, he suspended the term for two years after examining reports and character references.

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