Saturday 19 October 2019

Former Mr Ireland spared jailed over €50k illegal steroid seizure after leap of faith by judge

Former Mr Ireland Hans Vogel Photo: Collins Courts
Former Mr Ireland Hans Vogel Photo: Collins Courts

Tom Tuite

A FORMER body-builder has been spared jail over seizures of €50,000 worth of anabolic steroids in Dublin.

As a body builder, Hans Vogel, aged 46, a former Mr Ireland winner competed at a high level nationally and internationally.

However, Dublin District Court heard today that he was making up to €600 a week from selling an illegal steroids operation.

Vogel, with an address at Cameron Court, Cork Street, Dublin pleaded guilty to breaching the Irish Medicines Board Act on February 25, 2016 and April 19, 2016.

It followed an investigation by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which is responsible for regulating medicinal and health products in Ireland.

Guilty pleas were entered to charges for introducing into the State prescription only substances that were falsified medicinal products, keeping them for supply, unlawfully importing them and placing them on the market

Father-of-three Vogel, was fined €2,000 and ordered to pay €5,000 in technical costs of the analysis of the steroids with in six months or face five days’ jail in default.

HPRA inspector Alan Smullen told Judge Michael Coghlan that on February 25, 2016, a package was contained 4,070 vials of anabolic steroids was sent to the home of a woman in Tallaght, Dublin. This seizure was worth €28,000, the court heard.

It had been sent from Romania and indicated the manufacturer was linked to the Seychelles but the company registration office there had no record of the firm.

The steroids were falsified medical products because their source and history were incorrectly represented.

Mr Smullen agreed with Brian Gageby BL, prosecuting, that such type of products which can only be dispensed by a pharmacist with a prescription from a registered medical professional.

The woman agreed to take delivery of package for Vogel but did not know it contained steroids, the court heard. However, she knew he was involved with steroids.

The court heard that he got an An Post postman to take receipt of a package on April 19, 2016 which was found to contained more steroids, worth €22,000.

The postman lost his job as a result of his involvement.

When interviewed Vogel admitted making €500 to €600 a week from selling steroids.

An expert report opened in the court stated steroids had little use in medicine but were often abused in sports and body-building.

They carried a range of possible serious side-effects ranging from liver damage, growth of breasts in men, reduction in sperm count, infertility and increased risk of heart disease or stokes.

Vogel, a grandfather, had no prior convictions, but had been given the Probation Act last year in connection with a seizure of steroids in 2015.

Ms Smullen agreed with defence counsel Eimear Delargy that Vogel was taking part in the weight-lifting circuit and had used steroids. A small portion of the steroids would have been for his own use, the inspector said.

Pleading for leniency, Ms Delargy said her client now has work with a flooring company where he expects to be promoted to management. At the time of the offences he had financial difficulties and his marriage also broke up.

He had been cut off social welfare and also had a number debts.

A testimonial was handed in to court and counsel also asked the judge to note Vogel had once foiled an armed robbery. Ms Delargy said Vogel was no longer involved in body-building.

Judge Coghlan noted Vogel’s financial circumstances and he had a debt of around €70,000, while he was currently earning about €300 a week which is subject to increase.

He said on one level it seemed to have been a small operation but the capacity for the substances to have been abused could have had serious implications.

The profits were not insignificant, he added

Judge Coghlan said Vogel was presented in court as a reformed angel, back in the labour force and had relinquished his former career.

Sparing him a one-year jail sentence he said he was taking a leap of faith in the accused.

He imposed the fine and costs order but warned Vogel he would go to prison if he re-offended.

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