Saturday 27 December 2014

Dublin soldier who told gardai he bought cannabis to ease pain of dying wife to be sentenced later this month

Jessica Magee

Published 15/07/2014 | 14:20

The widowed father-of-two initially told gardaí he was moving the drugs to pay off a debt of €40,000
The widowed father-of-two initially told gardaí he was moving the drugs to pay off a debt of €40,000

A Dublin army corporal who told gardaí he bought cannabis to ease the pain of his dying wife will be sentenced later.

Corporal Damian Flood (39) was caught with €9,814 worth of cannabis herb near Nutgrove in Dublin on March 15 last year.

On arrest, the widowed father-of-two initially told gardaí he was moving the drugs to pay off a debt of €40,000.

However he later confessed to buying the drugs after online research showed him juiced cannabis added to food could act as a pain reliever.

Flood told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that he wanted to ease the suffering of his wife, who was terminally ill with breast cancer. She died five months later, on August 26 last year.

Flood, with an address at Scribblestown Avenue, Finglas, pleaded guilty to possessing the drug for sale or supply.

He apologised to the court, saying he was “embarrassed” even to be there. “It was a moment of madness,” he said.

The court heard Flood has served 18 years with the Defence Forces, including several overseas postings, and is three years from retirement.

Detective Garda Colin Tighe told Melanie Greally BL, prosecuting, that gardaí became suspicious when they saw a car driving erratically in the Rathfarnham area.

When they stopped the car, the driver seemed very nervous and on edge and there was a strong smell of cannabis herb.

There was a knuckle duster and a can of pepper spray in the car, which the driver said he kept for self-protection when he worked as a taxi driver.

Gardaí found a vacuum packed bag containing cannabis herb in a shopping bag in the car boot.

“It's only grass, I was trying to dump it, I can't tell you where it came from,” said Flood.

Lorcan Staines BL, defending, said Flood has no previous convictions, cooperated with gardaí and was genuinely remorseful.

Flood said he initially lied to the gardaí that he was moving the drugs to pay off a debt because he didn't want to implicate his dying wife in his arrest.

He said that after doing some research online, he made a few calls and got a parcel delivered.

When the parcel arrived it seemed to be worth about €5,000, whereas he only wanted to spend up to €500.

Flood told the dealer he couldn't afford it and said he was in the process of returning the parcel when he was arrested.

Gardaí found a yellow post-it in Flood's house with a Rathfarnham address on it, near to where he was stopped.

A probation report said Flood is at low risk of re-offending.

Mr Staines said Flood needed a further three years in the army to avail of a pension, and that the outcome of the case could have serious financial consequences for him.

If Flood gets a prison sentence he will be immediately discharged from the army. If he gets a suspended sentence it will be up to the General Army Commander to decide but it is “likely” he will be discharged, counsel said.

Mr Staines asked the court to impose a fine below €381, which would not affect Flood's military conduct.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded Flood on continuing bail for sentencing on July 27th 2015.

Gardaí said Flood's driving prior to his arrest was consistent with someone who was lost, nervous and doing something which he knew he shouldn't be.

Reference letters for Flood were handed into court, including one from a retired army captain noting that Flood had served overseas including a mission in Kosovo.

Another letter from a coach at St Andrew's Boxing Club in Cabra, which Flood runs, praised his hard work and dedication in helping young people over the years.

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