Saturday 17 March 2018

'Vulnerable' young mother caught with €39,000 worth of drugs escapes jail time

Scales (stock)
Scales (stock)

Jessica Magee

A young mother caught with €39,000 of herbal cannabis has walked free from court after a judge said she was “vulnerable” and had been lead by her co-accused.

Carmel O'Reilly (28) of Slí na Coille, Belturbet, Co Cavan pleaded guilty to possessing almost two kilos of the drug for sale or supply on the Naas Road  on December 13, 2013.

Judge Martin Nolan gave O'Reilly a five-year suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and said she had played “a very small part, at the lowest level” in this drug-dealing operation.

Judge Nolan said O'Reilly had the “perfect mitigation” and took into account her guilty plea, her cooperation with gardaí, the absence of any record prior or since this offence and two very good references on her behalf from former gardaí.

The judge said he would take the “unusual step” of not imprisoning O'Reilly as he felt it was a one-off offence and she would not come before court again.

He described O'Reilly, who has trained as a veterinary nurse, as a “lady of intelligence” with “considerable talents”.

Sergeant Seamus Gannon told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that O'Reilly had been the front seat passenger of a car which was stopped at a garda checkpoint.

Sgt Gannon noticed a strong smell of cannabis coming from the car and found a black bin bag in the back, containing two tightly-wrapped bales of cannabis herb. He saw the male driver of the car breaking up a SIM card and arrested them both.

O'Reilly made full admissions and said they were driving her father's car and that she had tried to push the bag under the seat as they approached the checkpoint.

The driver was co-accused Dominick Brady (41), originally from Belturbet, County Cavan. He was was O'Reilly's former partner and the father of her daughter who was then six years old.

Brady told gardaí on his arrest that he was transporting the drugs to pay a debt.

Sgt Gannon said Brady disappeared three days before he was due in court last December and gardaí remain unaware of his whereabouts, despite numerous checks around Cavan and with the PSNI.

Sgt Gannon said Brady had been engaged in the drug trade and had brought O'Reilly on the journey “for convenience” and to act as cover. He said Brady had the more senior role in the operation.

O'Reilly told gardaí that she has had no contact with Brady since the night they were arrested.

She said Brady had warned her before the trip, “if we're stopped, we're f**ked”.

Anne Marie Lawlor BL, defending, said Brady was a significant drug user of cocaine and cannabis and that the couple were dependent on social welfare and were living “hand to mouth”.

Ms Lawlor gave the court a psychological report describing O'Reilly as vulnerable, depressed and prone to feeling stressed, overwhelmed and anxious.

The court heard O'Reilly endured a disturbing and traumatic event at age 16 which lead to her being bullied.

Brady became very manipulative in their relationship and threatened physical violence, as a result of which O'Reilly became “utterly compliant to all of his wishes”, the court heard.

O'Reilly wrote a letter of apology to court expressing her deep shame. The court was also given reference letters from her mother, her trainer, the ISPCA and two retired gardaí who spoke highly of her.

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