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Thursday 14 November 2019

Ex-garda and boy band singer spared jail over cocaine find

Michael Garrett was in IOU before he became a garda
Michael Garrett was in IOU before he became a garda

A "stellar" garda and former bandmate of Westlife stars has been spared jail after he was caught with cocaine during a search.

Michael Garrett (40), of Orchard Lane, Strandhill Road, Sligo, had earlier pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to unlawful possession of cocaine at Tritonville Avenue, Sandymount, on August 26, 2018.

He was based in a Dublin garda station at the time.

Garrett had 15 years' unblemished service and was once chosen to represent the force and met US president Barack Obama during his state visit.

Since his drugs arrest, however, he had been suspended from duty and later dismissed.

His cocaine use stemmed from a mental breakdown after alleged incidents of workplace bullying, the court was told.

The case was listed again for sentencing yesterday when he was convicted and fined €500 by Judge John O'Leary.

Garrett had been a member of boy band IOU when Louis Walsh signed a number of its members in 2000.

They included Shane Filan, Kian Egan and Mark Feehily, who went on to international success and stardom in Westlife - but Garrett was not selected.

He went to college, however, and attended the Garda Training College in Templemore and had a "stellar career" until his arrest last year.

In evidence, Inspector Michael McNulty, from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, told the court Garrett had been stopped under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Powder

During a search, two bags of white powder were found. They contained 1.6g of cocaine, worth about €140.

Garrett had no previous convictions.

Paul Comiskey O'Keeffe BL, defending, pleaded with the court to spare his client a jail sentence and conviction despite the aggravating circumstances.

Insp McNulty agreed that at the time of the offence, Garrett had been a serving member of the force for 15 years, with an unblemished record.

Insp McNulty accepted the defendant had handed over the drugs, he was detained and interviewed four times, during which he made admissions.

Mr Comiskey O'Keeffe said Garrett acknowledged that being a serving member of An Garda Siochana at the time was an aggravating factor.

Counsel said Garrett felt animosity toward him after he was awarded a place on a motoring course. It allegedly came from a new superior, and he had documented incidents of workplace bullying.

He was "demoted to carry out work ordinarily done by civilians" and believed he was victimised.

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