Self-confessed 'drug mule' gets suspended sentence after judge says she was 'unlucky' in life
A woman who described herself as a “drugs mule” has walked free from court after a judge said she had been “unlucky” in life.
Josephine Hoey (38) of Banbridge, Co Down, was given a four-year suspended sentence after she was found in possession of heroin worth over €37,000.
She pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possessing the drugs for sale or supply at Clonshaugh Woods apartment complex on September 19 last.
Passing sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said Hoey had been transporting drugs from Dublin to the North in a bid to pay off a debt for her own long-standing drug addiction.
Judge Nolan said Hoey had rendered herself vulnerable by taking drugs. He said her teenage son had been threatened and she had found herself under considerable pressure to transport these drugs.
“She has been quite unlucky in the way her life has treated her,” said the judge, after he asked counsel for Hoey his opinion as to her moral culpability.
“If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas,” replied Pieter Le Vert BL for the defence.
Mr Le Vert said Hoey was well aware that she had put herself in this situation but he said that given the “almost unfathomable” struggles she had gone through in her life from an early age, it was not surprising that she had serious problems which led her into addiction.
“There are very, very few people who are as vulnerable as Ms Hoey who come before this court,” said Mr Le Vert.
Detective Garda Neil Plunkett told Cathleen Noctor BL, prosecuting, that two cars were stopped on the night in question after gardaí noticed they were parked in a suspicious manner.
Hoey was the passenger in one of the cars and gardaí found tinfoil on the floor of the car which they thought was going to be used for smoking heroin.
She handed gardaí a package from her handbag containing over 260 grammes of heroin, valued at €140 per gramme. Hoey and the driver of the car, who is also before the courts, were arrested and gardaí found a further quantity of heroin on her person.
The total value of the drugs seized was just over €37,300.
Mr Le Vert said Hoey had been a passenger in a car, along with a dog, in the mistaken belief that their presence would provide some sort of cover for the transportation of drugs.
“It's a well-known tactic and it simply doesn't work,” said Mr Le Vert.
Hoey told gardaí that her role was as “drugs mule” to bring drugs back to the North in order to clear her own debt of about £1,800 for her heroin addiction.
She said she was under duress and that threats had been made against her 15-year-old son.
“They know I don't give a f*** about my own life so they bring up my son. What if he had an accident on his way home from school, how would you know it was an accident?” she told gardaí.
Hoey has three previous convictions for theft in Northern Ireland, none of which carried custodial sentences.
The court heard Hoey had worked for most of her life up until five years ago.
Mr Le Vert said she was assaulted repeatedly by a family member at a very early age and also suffered an extremely serious attack at the age of 14.
“She has had mental health difficulties from then on,” he said, which included constant cleaning, numerous hospitalisations and incidents of self-harm.
Hoey thanked Mr Le Vert tearfully as she left the court and promised the judge that she was going to work on her mental health and never take drugs again.
“It's nice to be a hero for a day,” Judge Nolan remarked to Mr Le Vert, who replied that in the nature of his job, it would only be for one day.