Friday 16 November 2018

Gym instructor sold and advertised steroids through a Facebook page, court hears

Agris Bremsmits advertised and sold steroids through a Facebook page (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Agris Bremsmits advertised and sold steroids through a Facebook page (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Tom Tuite

A GYM instructor ran a business illegally advertising and selling anabolic steroids through a Facebook page, a court has heard.

Agris Bremsmits, 33, originally from Latvia but who has an address at Alderwood Green, Springfield, Tallaght, Dublin was spared jail after pleading guilty to nine charges under the Irish Medicines Board Act for unlawfully selling products which required a prescription.

He was fined €5,000 and ordered to pay €3,500 in prosecution costs.

He was brought before Dublin District Court following an investigation by the Health Product Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the State’s medicines watchdog agency.

The probe began after the HPRA received a complaint from the mother of an 18-year-old youth who had bought steroids through Bremsmits’ "Steroids Ireland" Facebook page. She was tidying her son’s bedroom and was shocked to find used needles, Judge John Brennan heard.

HPRA enforcement officer Alan Smullen told the court that he posed as a customer and made contact with Bremsmits to purchase steroids. He was given a postal address, the accused’s workplace, to send money.

Meanwhile on Nov. 16 2015, customs officers detained a packaged from Bulgaria that was addressed to gym worker. It contained 190 vials and 1200 tablets.

His home was searched a month later by HPRA officers and gardai. A further 200 tablets and 37 vials were recovered. They also found evidence that he had been running the Facebook page which he also admitted. An other package was also detained while it was being sent by post to him. He had also been found to use another name.

He used his work address to receive packages because he did not want his wife to know, the court was told.

The court heard the products were mostly steroids but they also included some Viagra-like products and the total value of the substances seized was €11,000.

The charges can result in fines of €4,000 per offence and 12-month jail terms. The judge  also heard that steroids can cause serious health risks.

He said the court takes a serious view in relation to the sale of prescription medicines.

Pleading for leniency, barrister Matthew Holmes asked the judge to note his client’s guilty plea despite the possibility of a technical defence. He also asked the judge to take into consideration admissions made by Bremsmits. He has taken down the social media page he had used to advertise the steroids, counsel said, adding that Bremsmits also used them.

Mr Holmes said his client realises selling them was illegal and he had done it to make money.

Judge Brennan said Bremsmits had used a Facebook page which allowed him to supply materials to young people and it was effectively a business for him. However, he noted the guilty plea and that he had agreed to pay prosecution expenses.

He spared him a custodial sentence and imposed fines totalling €5,000 which has to be paid within a year along with €3,500 sought by the HPRA to cover expenses of analysing the products seized during the investigation.

He said that if Bremsmits had previous convictions he would have had no hesitation in considering a term of imprisonment.

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