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Only fifth of drug offenders serve 10 years

ONLY one in five serious drug offenders convicted under laws which attract mandatory minimum 10-year jail terms are serving 10 years or more in prison.

Draft research carried out on behalf of the judiciary has shown that between 2010 and 2012, just under 21pc of those sentenced in relation to these offences – where someone is convicted of possession of drugs worth more than €13,000 – actually received a sentence of 10 years or more.

An analysis of the controversial mandatory minimum sentences, which is still under way, has revealed that the vast bulk of such offenders do not serve the miminum tariff the legislation sets down.

The draft sentencing research was unveiled earlier this week by High Court Judge Mr Justice Peter Charleton who supervises the Judicial Researchers Office (JRO).

Separate research conducted by the JRO has revealed that almost a third of people convicted for robbery offences in the Circuit Criminal Courts serve less than two years in prison, while 35pc serve between two to four years.

One in five receive sentences of five to six years while another 19pc serve eight to 10 years in jail for robbery offences.

Judge Charleton, delivering the Martin Tansey Memorial lecture on Wednesday night, said that sentencing is "not at all easy", and said he personally believes that some kind of practical guidance is needed because of the "burdens involved in formulating a correct sentence".

The lecture, at the Criminal Courts of Justice, was attended by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Claire Loftus, and senior members of the judiciary as well as Sean Aylward, head of the King's Inns, the body that educates barristers.

Judge Charleton said a review completed last November of rape sentences showed that lenient sentences for rape are "very rare indeed".

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