AN off-duty police officer has been jailed after he was caught with 100 Ecstasy tablets in an undercover police surveillance operation.
Sean Paul Race (31), with an address in Comber, Co Down, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to a charge of possessing the Class A drugs with intent to supply during the “targeted operation”.
Prosecution barrister David Russell told the court that on July 3, 2013, two police officers stopped Race at the junction of Agincourt Avenue and Rugby Road in south Belfast.
One hundred Ecstasy tables were found in a bag in his pocket.
He later said that he found the tablets in a bush and he was going to bring them to police.
His defence had been that it was a case of “entrapment” and that he had been “set up in some way”.
But Mr Russell told the court that this was a “lying defence”.
“He was a serving police officer at the time of this offence and the accused had been under observation by a surveillance team.”
Following his arrest, Race quit the PSNI after almost ten years of service and moved to the Republic to work with charities UNICEF and Infinity to carry out fundraising work.
“This was clearly a commercial operation,” said Mr Russell. “It was planned in advance and it was not an off the cuff meeting.”
“There was a significant number of tablets involved and he knew was going to get a considerable reward for it.”
Defence counsel Richard Greene QC said Race’s career now lay in tatters and had lost his good name and had also lost his work with Infinity in Dublin as a result of his guilty plea.
He told the court that Race could not deal with the stresses of his police job and abused alcohol and took legal highs and other drugs to cope with his “chaotic life”.
Judge Neil Rafferty QC said Race had been “effectively caught red handed” in the covert police operation and had put forward a “lying defence” of entrapment, made a ”no comment” interview, and only pleaded guilty close to the start of his trial.
“In his letter to me he expresses the hope not to receive a custodial sentence so he can maintain the relationship with his son. This was the same son he took drug dealing,” said Judge Rafferty QC.
“I have considered whether there any exceptional elements to this case that would allow me to suspend this sentence.
“Unfortunately, Mr Race, I have concluded there no exceptional circumstances. You will served 21 months in custody followed by 21 months on supervised licence,” added Judge Rafferty QC.