Man claimed he purchased cocaine for stag party

A Dunmurry taxi driver caught with a six blocks of cocaine claimed he had purchased it for a stag party, a court heard today.

Pacemaker Press 22/5/2013 Laganside Court Building in Belfast City centre Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Paul McManus was given 100 hours community service and probation for having the Class A drug with intent to supply.

A judge also warned the 38-year-old that the conviction could put his employment at risk.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard McManus, of Almond Heights in Dunmurry, was stopped in his car by police on January 20 this year.

Searches of the vehicle uncovered a bag containing the cocaine blocks, along with a further quantity on the defendant.

A prosecution representative said McManus admitted the consignment belonged to him.

“He said his friends had all chipped in, and (they) intended to use it when going on a stag party the next weekend,” the lawyer added.

Defence counsel Sean O’Hare insisted his client was not planning to deal.

“It was a luxurious amount for one person, but not a commercial quantity,” he said.

Mr O’Hare argued that McManus had acted under stress due to his previous taxi being burnt out following an altercation.

“He doesn’t want to carry on with this type of risky behaviour,” the barrister added.

District Judge Peter King told McManus he would give him the benefit of the doubt over his stag party claims.

Imposing community service and one year’s probation, Mr King warned of other consequences for the defendant’s taxi-driving job.

He said: “It’s quite clear that this is going to cause you difficulty with your employment, I suspect that’s going to cause more difficulty than any sentence of this court.”