News Courts

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Dad who smuggled cocaine on Dublin train gets half of 10-year sentence suspended

Brian Kavanagh

Published 28/04/2014 | 20:02

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A FATHER-OF-THREE who was jailed for 10 years for having €50,000 worth of cocaine on the Dublin to Cork train has had half of his sentence suspended on review.

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In April 2009 Donal Heaphy (59) formerly of Rock Road, Cork, was jailed for 10 years by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin for the possession of cocaine for sale or supply on September 14, 2005 at Kent Station in Cork. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge but was convicted after trial.

The trial heard evidence that the drugs were concealed in a gold-coloured champagne box.

The case came before the Court of Criminal Appeal in May 2010, where the court allowed an appeal against sentence but did not interfere with the 10-year tariff imposed. However, the court found that there should be a review upon expiry of not less than half of the 10-year term.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1999 a court may list a sentence for review after the expiry of not less than half the imposed sentence if satisfied the defendant was addicted to drugs at the time of sentencing.

The court heard evidence that Heaphy had a chaotic lifestyle where he took drugs and drank excessively; sometimes consuming three bottles of whiskey per day.

Counsel for Heaphy Tom Creed SC told the court that in its judgement the appeal court said it was intended that Heaphy would have five years in prison, and thereafter he may come to terms with his problems and find himself in the position to rejoin society without getting himself involved in any further difficulties.

He said the matter now came before the appeal court as Heaphy had served five years.

Presiding judge Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman said it was accepted the appeal court had jurisdiction to deal with the case by way of review.

He said the court was being asked in effect to “take a chance” on Heaphy, but had regard to a favourable report from a prison officer in charge of Heaphy’s activities.

Mr Justice Hardiman said, having considered the age of the applicant and the fact that he now had some stability, the court was prepared to take a chance on the matter by suspending the balance of the sentence.

He said this would be done on condition that Heaphy remain under the supervision of the probation services, abide by their instructions and abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Mr Justice Hardiman said that the probation services were “under a positive legal duty” to bring the matter back before the court should Heaphy relapse in to using drugs or alcohol.

He said it was better not merely for the applicant but for society as a whole that Heaphy avail of any rehabilitation possible.

Mr Justice Hardiman warned Heaphy that if he relapsed in to drink and drugs there was a great likelihood he would spend a great deal of his life in prison.

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