Thursday 14 December 2017

Tennis club employee spared jail for holding onto €26,000 of cocaine to repay drug debt

Laura Clarke (23) at court yesterday where she was given a suspended sentence for possession of 372 grams of cocaine for sale or supply at her home in October, 2014.
Pic: Courtpix
Laura Clarke (23) at court yesterday where she was given a suspended sentence for possession of 372 grams of cocaine for sale or supply at her home in October, 2014. Pic: Courtpix

A tennis club employee has been spared jail for holding onto €26,000 worth of cocaine to repay a drug debt.

Laura Clarke (23) of Belcamp Avenue, Coolock, Dublin said she was addicted to cocaine and that drug dealers exploded a pipe bomb outside her house two years ago to intimidate her.

Clarke pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of 372 grams of cocaine for sale or supply on October 7, 2014 at her home where he lived with her mother and her four year old son. She has no previous convictions.

Judge Patrick McCartan said the punishment for drug dealing was “draconian” because society viewed it as a very serious offence. The offence carries up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum term of 10 years except in exceptional circumstances.

The judge said the higher courts had ruled that the offence must lead to an immediate prison term and that Clarke “richly” deserved a custodial sentence.

However, he said he was going to take a chance on her because of her young son and her voluntary community work and imposed a five year suspended sentence.

Prosecuting counsel Fiona Murphy told the court that gardaí raided Clarke's family home after a confidential tip-off. Clarke was at work at Malahide Tennis Club but her mother directed gardaí towards her bedroom where they found the cocaine and a weighing scales.

Her mother picked her up at work and brought her home where she was arrested. Clarke said in interview that she had a €3,000 drug debt and that her dealers told her she had to repay it by holding onto the cocaine or she wouldn't see her son again.

She told gardaí these same dealers exploded a pipe bomb outside her home in 2013.

Defence counsel Damien Colgan SC said Clarke was now clean of drugs and volunteered with a community training scheme. He submitted that she only agreed to hold the drugs because she was in fear for her safety and the safety of her child.

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