Pair who sold heroin to undercover police sentenced

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A 36-year-old Belfast man who was unwittingly involved in supplying heroin to undercover police posing as drug users has been handed a 42-month prison sentence.

Ciaran Gerard Toner, a father-of-one from King Street, was told he will spend half the sentence in prison with the remaining 21 months on licence upon his release, after he admitted a string of drugs offences.

Toner was further charged with offending dating back to November 2013 which involved importing heroin across the border from Dublin to Belfast.

Also appearing in the dock of Belfast Crown Court was his former girlfriend Fionnuala Braniff, who also admitted supplying the Class A drug to the undercover officers on several occasions last January and February.

The court heard the 26-year-old mother-of-one, from New Barnsley Drive in Belfast, did not gain financially from her role but was doing it “simply to fund her own habit”. Judge Gordon Kerr QC handed her an 18-month sentence, which was deferred for six months.

Toner’s barrister said that since his time on remand in prison, Toner was now working to address his long-standing drug addiction, and was “finished with heroin ... he never wants to see it again, never mind use it”.

Regarding the offending, the barrister described Toner as a “middle man” who was selling drugs to fund his own habit.

Braniff’s barrister said the only benefit she gained from offending was “being able to obtain heroin for herself”, adding she was not drugs-free.

The barrister added that since her arrest last year Braniff has been “striving to overcome her addiction to drugs, and look after her son”.