A FORMER legal secretary who was caught with over 8,800 grammes of amphetamine and close to 8,000 ecstasy tablets that she was minding for a prominent local criminal has been jailed for three years.
Fiona Dineen (30) of 83 Lee Drive, Ballinorig, Tralee appeared at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing on Friday, had earlier admitted possession of amphetamines and ecstasy with a combined value of €172,353 at her home on June 1, 2011.
A garda search of Miss Dineen's home, carried out following a confidential tip off had uncovered included 8,833 grammes of amphetamines worth an estimated €132,498, and 7,841 tablets described as "legal X" ecstasy pills valued at €39,205 hidden in a wardrobe in spare room in the house. A further 130 "legal x" tablets were discovered in a wooden box in Fiona Dineen's own bedroom.
The trial heard that Fiona Dineen had been asked to mind the drugs two days earlier by a prominent Tralee criminal to whom she owed between €400 and €500.
Miss Dineen did not name the person who gave her the drugs, due to fears for her own safety, but head of the Kerry Divisional Drugs Unit Detective Sergeant Declan Liddane said gardaí had well founded suspicions as to who actually owned the drugs.
Det Sgt Declan Liddane told the court that the unnamed criminal, described as a major player in Kerry's drugs market, had likely coerced Fiona Dineen into holding the drugs as she had a clean record and a good job as legal secretary with a well known Tralee law firm and as such was unlikely to be sought or investigated by gardaí.
Passing sentence Judge Carroll Moran described the case as a "tragedy" and noted that Fiona Dineen had no other convictions, came from a good family and was suffering from drug addiction, a problem she has since addressed and cured, at the time of the offence.
Judge Moran said Fiona Dineen had been used by the owner of the drugs who left her to "face the music alone" and that she had lost a good job as a result of her offending.
"This is a very serious case. In the relative scheme of drug dealing it's near the top level with regards to the amount of drugs that were found. On the other hand it is a story where there are mitigating factors," said Judge Moran.
Judge Moran imposed an immediate three year custodial sentence.