Wednesday 22 November 2017

Drug purity ruling a blow for DPP

The DPP and gardai are considering the potential fallout from a legal ruling in a drug trafficking trial which last week saw charges dropped because the purity levels of the seized cocaine haul could not be proven.

It has also emerged that despite a previous Supreme Court ruling quashing a conviction against a drug dealer for exactly the same reasons, the State's main forensic laboratory still does not test the purity levels of illegal drugs.

The February 2011 ruling in which Wexford man, Alphonsus Connolly, successfully overturned his conviction under Section 15(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act was last week used as part of a successful legal bid to have more serious charges against another drug dealer dropped.

The 15(a) law was introduced by the Government in 1997 as part of a "zero tolerance policy" to drug trafficking and in response to the gangland shooting of journalist Veronica Guerin.

Under the law a person found in possession of €13,000 or more worth of illegal drugs faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

On Friday last Englishman Imran Ramzan, 34, was found guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court of possession of cocaine for sale or supply.

The haul was valued at €584,500 and Ramzan of Polygon Road, Manchester, was charged with the more serious "15(a)" charge.

But during the trial, Judge Patrick McCartan ruled that the State had to drop the 15(a) charge because of last year's Supreme Court appeal which ruled that the value of the drugs could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt without a purity test.

The latest judgement is set to be "discussed at a very high level" and could mean the bigger drug seizures will have to be tested for purity in future.

Sunday Independent

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