Sunday 28 May 2017

Family want to free man jailed in Philippines for 0.3g of cannabis

Eanna O'Cochlain
Eanna O'Cochlain
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The family of an Irishman who was handed a 12-year prison sentence for drug smuggling have launched an appeal to get him home after claiming that the 55-year-old was "stitched up" during a trip to the Philippines.

Éanna Ó Cochláin was handed the 12-year sentence after being convicted of smuggling two small cigarette-style sticks of cannabis through an airport.

His Cork-based brother, Patrick Coughlan, said that Éanna and his family have suffered enough for something he was framed for in the Philippines.

Éanna is currently out on bail pending a challenge to his conviction.

"Éanna has suffered enough. They have his passport and will not let him leave the country," Patrick said last night.

"His wife and their 22-year-old daughter Caoimhe are all Irish citizens and it's a disgrace the way he is being treated."

He told radio station 96FM: "Three members of our family have died in the past six months.

"My mother Josephine died at the age of 93 last year and she was calling for Éanna on her death bed."

The brothers lost their sister Deirdre on April 12 this year, and the family are now desperate to get Éanna back home.

He is the youngest of seven and hails from a very tight-knit family.

He was prosecuted by the authorities in the Philippines after being stopped at Laoag Airport in July 2013 with a small amount of cannabis.

The amount discovered was just 0.38g of cannabis, contained in two small cigarettes.

His family were horrified when a 12-year sentence was imposed.

"It is an awful trauma for him and his family. Éanna would not smoke cannabis.

"Being a mental health nurse, he would have looked after clients with drugs problems, so he is aware of what drugs can do," said Patrick.

Irish Independent

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