A TRALEE woman has claimed she did not know that diet pills she had purchased on the internet contained an illegal substance.
21-year-old Simone Golden, of 5 The Anchorage, Tralee, was before Killorglin District Court last Friday charged with unlawful possession of Phentramine for the purpose of sale or supply and with the unlawful possession of the drug at her residence.
The drugs were found by gardai in the driver-side pocket of a car, owned by a female friend of the accused woman, which was parked outside the rented property.
Golden claimed she had purchased the pills on the internet in order to lose weight following the birth of her baby the previous August.
She denied knowing that the pills, had a controlled substance, related to amphetamine, as an ingredient. She said she had given the diet pills to her friend after she was advised by her GP to stop taking them.
Golden said the pills had led to a half a stone weight-loss but caused her "heart to race". She said her friend asked her for the pills when she noticed that she had lost weight.
Garda Danielle Hegarty of the Kerry Divisional Drugs Unit, said she, along with three other gardai, executed a search warrant at Simone Golden's residence on May 12 last year.
Garda Hegarty said she had sought the warrant after receiving confidential information that residents of 5 The Anchorage were in possession of amphetamine.
Gardai turned their attention to the car parked in the parking space reserved for the apartment when a systematic search failed to uncover any illegal substances.
Defence solicitor Nuala Liston sought to have the case against her client dismissed on the grounds that the gardai had not followed correct procedures when interviewing Simone Golden. Ms Liston described the fact that her client underwent a question and answer session in the same room as her friend as "totally and utterly unacceptable".
"The gardai had the opportunity to bring both ladies to the garda station for interviews in accordance with regulations," she said.
Gardai, however, denied that proper procedures had not been complied with. They said the interviews with Simone Golden and her friend had taken place out of earshot from one another.
Inspector Fearghal Patwell said the gardai were "not in a position to say what drugs were found" and that it was "standard practice to take cautioned memos".
Judge Leo Malone struck out the charge of possessing Phentramine for the purpose of sale or supply stating he was not satisfied it was proven. The judge did however find Simone Golden guilty of unlawful possession of drugs.
Judge Malone said a drugs conviction would "severely restrict" the accused woman's travel options and he gave her the option of making a volunteered contribution to charity in lieu of a formal conviction.
The case was adjourned until April 13 next to allow time for Simone Golden to make a €250 contribution to the Tralee branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society.