Man jailed for running drug-dealing operation
A CO Antrim man has been jailed for running a drug-dealing operation.
Caolan Conn (24) was handed a three-year sentence which was divided equally between jail and licence.
From Bawnmore Drive in Newtownabbey, he appeared at Belfast Crown Court and was sentenced for four drugs offences - including being concerned in the supply of cocaine.
Conn was stopped by the police at Belfast City Airport on August 19 2021 when his phone was taken by officers.
On that date he refused to provide the PIN to open his mobile, but police were subsequently able to access the device and located messages indicating illegal activity.
His home was searched in September 2021 when more mobile phones were seized, and on February 4 2022 he was stopped and searched by police on the Shore Road.
On this occasion, officers located three bags of cocaine in his boxer shorts which he said was for his personal use.
He was arrested and during interview, he was questioned about messages found on various phones which suggested he was supplying drugs.
During interview, he denied any involvement in the drugs trade or being involved in a drug-dealing operation.
Despite these initial denials, the court heard there were more than 1,000 messages found on the phones which revealed that between May 2019 and November 2021 Conn has been concerned in supplying primarily cocaine but also Class B and C drugs.
Included in these messages were price lists for drugs, messages asking for high purity cocaine, evidence of financial transactions and texts which indicated he employed people to mix and deliver drugs.
Defence submissions made on behalf of Conn indicated he began taking drugs in his teenage years which resulted in debts and these debts, coupled with heavy gambling, led to him supplying drugs for commercial gain.
As he sentenced Conn, Judge Reel said he had taken into account his clear criminal record, his good work record and his expressions of regret and remorse.
Telling Conn he played an organisational role and employed others in the operation, Judge Reel imposed the three-year sentence.