DPP loses appeal over length of sentence imposed on drug dealer
THE Court of Criminal Appeal has refused to increase the three-and-a-half year sentence imposed on a former head shop owner for the possession of cocaine worth €70,000.
The DPP appealed against what it submitted was the undue leniency of the sentence imposed on Paul Quigley (34), of Castlebridge, Co Wexford, by Judge Alice Doyle in January last year.
Quigley had pleaded guilty at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court to the possession of drugs for sale or supply at Scarawalsh, Enniscorthy, on July 30, 2009.
The court heard that gardai who stopped and searched Quigley’s car found just over 1kg of cocaine valued at €70,000 in the boot.
The father-of-one, who once operated a number of head shops, has 22 previous convictions including one for the sale or supply of drugs.
Counsel for the State argued that Judge Doyle had erred in principle by placing too much weight on the mitigating factors in the case and not enough weight on the aggravating factors.
Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, presiding, said there was "no doubt" the sentence imposed was lenient having regard to the mandatory minimum sentence of ten years for such cases.
However, he said it was clear that Judge Doyle had been entitled to depart from the mandatory minimum sentence by reason of Quigley’s plea of guilty and his acceptance of responsibility for the drugs.
Mr Justice Hardiman said that, having considered the transcript of the sentence hearing, the appeal court found the State had not demonstrated the sentence imposed was unduly lenient and would accordingly reject the appeal.