TWO Dublin women, who imported thousands of banned and dangerous slimming tablets which they were unlawfully selling through several popular Irish websites, are to be sentenced next March.
Sharon Edwards (33) and Tara McEvoy (40), who have addresses at Donomore Avenue, Tallaght, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to breaking medicinal products regulations.
The women, both mothers-of-two, are to be sentenced in March after they were successfully prosecuted by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB). Judge John O'Neill yesterday heard that they imported what they believed were "100 per cent herbal" remedies called Lida and Botanical Soft Gel Capsules, which were bought on the internet and turned out to contain a controversial drug called Sibutramine.
Brenda Kirby, an enforcement officer with the IMB, told prosecuting counsel Ronan Kennedy that the investigation began in August 2010 when ads for certain products were placed on the Gumtree website.
On March 9, 2011, customs officers at the An Post mail centre in Portlaoise detained a parcel which had come from China and was addressed to Tara McEvoy. It contained 1980 "Botanical Soft Gel Capsules". Ms Kirby visited McEvoy's home in Tallaght and she told the officer that she also had 360 "Lida" slimming capsules.
The IMB officer was provided with her laptop and other documentation and discovered that McEvoy's friend Sharon Edwards was also involved in the business.
Defence barristers told the court that the two women had been using the products themselves and were happy with the result and then began buying them in bulk online to sell to others.
The court heard that between them they earned about €12,000, with much of the money used to buy more stock. One defence lawyer described the enterprise as a "kitchen table affair". Lawyers for the women asked the judge to take into consideration that they did not know the products they sold contained the potentially dangerous ingredient and that they had co-operated with the IMB.
Judge O'Neill noted that they did not have prior criminal convictions, were apologetic and embarrassed. They also feared that a criminal conviction for the offence could negatively affect voluntary work they engage in and which required Garda clearance, the judge was told.
Judge O'Neill noted the harmful effects of the medication but said they "had got involved in a silly enterprise".
He also noted that they were going to contribute €2,000 to cover the IMB's legal costs.
The charges, on conviction, can result maximum fines of €2,000 as well sentences of up to 12 months imprisonment.
Judge O'Neill adjourned sentencing until March when a probation report is to be furnished to the court.