| 8°C Dublin

Rattigan ran €1m drug racket from jail cell, trial told

THE Special Criminal Court will hear evidence that gang boss Brian Rattigan was the "directing force" behind a €1m heroin deal from his cell in Portlaoise Prison, his trial has heard.

Rattigan (31), with a last address at Cooley Road, Drimnagh, has pleaded not guilty to possessing heroin and two counts of possession of the drug for sale or supply on Hughes Road South, Walkinstown, Dublin, on May 21, 2008.

He has also denied possession of two mobile phones at cell 42, E1 landing, Portlaoise Prison while an inmate at the prison on May 22, 2008.

Opening the prosecution case yesterday, John O'Kelly told the court there would be evidence that gardai who raided a house on Hughes Road discovered heroin valued at over €1m in a shed at the back of the property.







Bedroom

He said the court would hear that gardai also discovered a red and white Nokia phone alongside an electronic weighing scale in the shed, while a search of a bedroom in the house yielded more than €36,000 in cash.

Mr O'Kelly said there would be evidence that a text message found on the red and white Nokia phone appeared to relate to the division of a large quantity of heroin and that the message came from a phone number associated with the accused man Brian Rattigan.

He said the court would hear that gardai who went to search the Rattigan's cell in Portlaoise Prison found him lying on his bed with a mobile phone in his hand, and that he threw this phone out of his cell when confronted by gardai.

Mr O'Kelly said the court would see CCTV footage of the mobile phone being thrown on to the prison landing, and that gardai would give evidence of two SIM cards being attached to this phone, as well as the discovery of an additional Samsung mobile phone, another SIM card and notebooks inside the Rattigan's cell. He said there would be evidence that a text message sent from a number attached to one of the phones to another phone found on a man arrested at the house on Hughes Road read: "That dark is there".

Mr O'Kelly said the court would hear that "dark" is slang for "heroin" and that the message was from Brian Rattigan to the other man informing him a consignment of drugs had arrived at the house.

He said an incoming message to a number attached to one of the phones found in Portlaoise read "Can you give me half a box of the bad thing for 13 I am waiting on a few bob I could sort you out", and the prosecution would contend that this was a request for half a kilo of heroin in return for €13,000.

Mr O'Kelly said it was the belief of investigating gardai that a message to "Drop €30 to Parrot", sent to a contact called "Lips", was addressed to Brian Rattigan's partner, while Parrot was the nickname of the owner of the house on Hughes Road.







Message

He said the court would hear that "€30" was thought to refer to €30,000, and that €30,000 was found by gardai at the base of a bed in the house on Hughes Road. Mr O'Kelly said that a further message to "Lips" read: "Get rid of your phones quick".

Mr O'Kelly said the prosecution would submit that the only reasonable inference was that Brian Rattigan was the driving force behind this drugs transaction.

In March 2011 the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered that Rattigan's trial should be moved from the Circuit Criminal Court to the Special Criminal Court (SCC) because the ordinary courts are "inadequate" to try the case.

The Special Criminal Court was told that the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, made an order that Rattigan should be tried at the non-jury SCC following an application by the DPP.

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie