A Co Tyrone drug dealer has been jailed for a year after he was caught selling heroin to undercover police officers.
Damien James Mullen (46) was the 20th person to be convicted and sentenced as part of the covert PSNI operation against the illegal sale of the Class A drug in Belfast city centre.
Mullen, of Emerson Terrace, Sion Mills was described in court as a “drug mule’’ for his cousin who was selling wraps of heroin out of her house in the Botanic area of south Belfast.
He pleaded to possession of £25 heroin wraps on seven dates on dates between December 17, 2013 and February 7, 2014.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Mullen was arrested as part of an undercover PSNI operation into the illegal supply of heroin on a street level.
Prosecutor Robin Steer said the two officers posed as heroin users in a bid to make “test purchases’’.
The court heard that after calling a mobile number given to them, the undercover officers arranged a meeting on December 17, 2013, at Magdala Street in the Botanic where Mullen turned up and handed over a heroin wrap in return for £25 in cash.
Judge Gordon Kerry QC was told that a second purchase was made from Mullen the following day at Cromwell Road in the same area.
A further five more purchases were made by the covert police officers from Mullen between January and February 2014.
The court was told that Mullen was staying with his cousin Joanne Phelan at her Botanic home and he was selling the heroin for her to feed his own drug habit.
Phelan was subsequently convicted at Belfast Crown Court of supplying heroin and received a two-year probation order.
The prosecutor added that the aggravating features in the case was Mullen had previous drugs convictions in Northern Ireland and he had also been jailed in Liverpool for three-and-a-half years for supplying heroin.
However, Mr Steer added that police accepted Mullen was acting as a “runner’’ for his cousin and was not selling the drugs for his own commercial gain.
Defence barrister Denis Boyd told the court Mullen “has been a drug addict for 20 years’’ saying he started to take drugs while “travelling the world as a manager for a rock band’’.
He said that as a result of his drug addiction, Mullen’s marriage broke down although he was still kept in regular contact with his two daughters, aged 23 and 21.
Mr Boyd added that Mullen was sleeping on the sofa of his cousin’s house and was acting as “drug mule’’ for her but never gained any money from selling the £25 heroin wraps.
Judge Kerr QC said Mullen had been “caught red handed’’ in the undercover police operation “selling these drugs to feed your addiction’’. He said that an aggravating feature of the case was his previous drugs convictions.
The judge sentenced Mullen two years, saying half would be spent in custody and the remaining 12 months would be spent on supervised licence following his release from prison. He also ordered the destruction of the seized drugs.