Wednesday 21 March 2018

Man walks free from court after judge quashes conviction

Ray Managh

A DUBLIN man walked free from the Four Courts today after a High Court judge quashed his conviction for having drugs for sale and supply.

Last November Alan Browne (30), of Donomore Park, Tallaght, was jailed for four at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Yvonne Murphy after he pleaded guilty to having €48,760 worth of cocaine and €18,375 ephedrine tablets for sale or supply at his home in January 2011, contrary to Section 15(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

However, the DPP later said that Mr Browne should not have been sentenced, convicted or charged in respect of the ephedrine.

Ephedrine had not been a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act since late 2009/early 2010.

Earlier this month the DPP initiated High Court proceedings, due to be heard later this year, to have his conviction and sentence quashed.

In light of the DPP's action on Wednesday barrister Keith Spencer, counsel for Mr Browne argued that Mr Browne's continued detention was unlawful. Ephedrine was not a controlled substance at the time of Mr Browne's arrest, arraignment or sentence, counsel added.

He was being held on foot of an order that was clearly bad and counsel argued that Mr Browne should be released from custody immediately.

Today Mr Justice Michael White, following an inquiry brought under Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution on behalf of Mr Browne into the legality of his detention at Shelton Abbey Open Prison, Co Wicklow, ordered the former postman's release and quashed his conviction and ordered his release

The case was remitted back to the Criminal Court as the DPP intended to seek to have Mr Browne re–tried in respect of allegedly having cocaine for sale and supply only.

Mr Justice White made his ruling after lawyers for the DPP said it was seeking to bring forward its proceedings to have Mr Browne’s conviction annulled.

Previously in an affidavit to the court the DPP said that it was "a source of great regret" that Mr Browne had been charged and convicted in respect to the possession of ephedrine.

Because the drug was no longer a controlled substance, the DPP submitted that Judge Murphy technically exceeded her jurisdiction by imposing a conviction and taking into account the charges relating to the Ephedrine.

There only way open to the DPP to correct the matter other than to seek to have the conviction quashed by way of judicial review and remit the charge in relation to the cocaine only back to the Circuit Court, the DPP submitted.

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