A DUTCH truck driver who received a 10-year sentence for aiding in the importation of €5.6 million worth of heroin hidden in a consignment of flowers must wait to learn if his appeal against his conviction has been successful.
In April 2011 Jan Stuurman (43) was sentenced to 10 years with three years and four months suspended by Judge Tony Hunt for unlawfully aiding and abetting in the importation of heroin into the State at New Custom House, Dublin on December 16th, 2008.
Stuurman, with a last address at Curran Ard, Athy, Co Kildare, was originally charged with possession of the heroin for sale or supply on the same date but entered a guilty plea at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the aiding and abetting charge during what was his second trial.
The court heard that Stuurman, who lives in Ireland and has a family here, was recruited by a group in Dublin and that his role was to facilitate the importation of the drugs and to co-opt people to aid in the enterprise.
Although no drugs were found in Stuurman’s truck, the court heard that 58 half-kilo packages of heroin, valued at €5.67 million, were uncovered in a spare wheel in the back of a vehicle driven by Thomas Van Son, who received an eight-year sentence for the possession and importation of the drugs.
Counsel for the accused man, Mr Bernard Condon SC, said that the trial judge erred in ruling that the accused man’s arrest by gardai and his detention by customs officials were lawful.
He said that, prior to the plea of guilty, Stuurman’s defence team had argued their client was detained for the purposes of a search that never happened and that there was insufficient evidence the garda who arrested Sturrman had the suspicion of wrongdoing necessary to effect arrest.
Mr Paul Greene SC, for the State, submitted that the engagement of Judge Hunt with the legal issues raised at trial was “exemplary”.
He argued that it would be a “very big step” to identify Stuurman’s case as one which would be capable of being challenged in the Court of Criminal Appeal subsequent to a guilty plea.
Presiding judge Mr Justice Frank Clarke, sitting with Mr Justice Daniel Herbert and Mr Justice Eamon de Valera, said the court would reserve its judgement.