Saturday 3 December 2016

Man who was jailed for possession of €191k drugs loses bid to obtain temporary release so he can pursue studies

Published 20/11/2015 | 16:32

Sentencing Judge Martin Nolan accepted Doyle was “under some duress” to hold the drugs and the firearm as a result of threats made against him.
Sentencing Judge Martin Nolan accepted Doyle was “under some duress” to hold the drugs and the firearm as a result of threats made against him.

A MAN who was forced to hold drugs and a gun by a gang who had threatened him over a drug debt has lost a bid to obtain temporary release from a five year prison sentence so he can pursue a course of study.

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In June, 2013, Keith Doyle (30), a father-of-four, formerly of Palmers Court, Palmerstown, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing cannabis, cocaine and MDMA tablets worth a total of €191,426 for sale or supply on March 21, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing a .38 revolver containing live ammunition on the same date at his home.

Gardai found several holdall bags on top of a wardrobe, in a bathroom hotpress and a bedside locker containing the drugs and the handgun with three live rounds of ammunition.

Doyle told gardai he had been threatened in October 2011 after he became indebted to a gang for a small drug habit.  On one occasion a gun was put to his head, he said.

The drugs and gun were delivered to him home by a man who arrived in a taxi.

He told gardaí he couldn't tell them who the gang was or his life “wouldn't be worth living" and he'd get a bullet in the back of the head.

Sentencing Judge Martin Nolan accepted Doyle was “under some duress” to hold the drugs and the firearm as a result of threats made against him.

Sometime after he received five years for both drugs and firearm offences, he applied  for temporary release to pursue a course of study to the governor of the training unit at Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. He was refused.

He then brought a High Court case challenging certain provisions of the 1964 Firearms Act which require temporary release cannot be granted to those serving a minimum term of imprisonment under that law.

He claimed Section 27C of that Act was unconstitutional because it is disproportionate and a "blunt instrument " which covers a wide range of criminal wrongdoing without regard to personal circumstances.

The governor of the training unit, the Minister for Justice, the Irish Prison Service, Ireland and the Attorney General, opposed his challenge.

High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns dismissed his action.

He did not accept Section 27C of the Act infringed his right to equal treatment before the law under Article 40.1 of the Constitution. Restrictions on granting temporary release those serving sentences for firearms are justified, he said.

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